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UC Irvine falls at Oral Roberts, 76-62, in CIT Second Round

TULSA, Okla. — The UC Irvine men’s basketball team fell behind early and never recovered in falling to Oral Roberts, 76-62, in the Postseason Tournament Second Round Monday night at Tulsa, Okla.

A layup by Damen Bell-Holter with 9:53 left in the first half gave the Golden Eagles an 18-7 lead and ORU maintained a double-digit lead the remainder of the game in improving to 20-14 on the season.

UCI’s season ends at 21-16 as the Anteaters tied for third-most wins in school single-season history and won nine of their last 12 games of the year. UCI, which defeated High Point, 70-61, in the first round of the CIT Wednesday, was competing in the postseason for the first time in 11 years, since the 2002 NIT.

Steven Roundtree led ORU with 21 points and 13 rebounds, Shawn Glover had 16 points, D.J. Jackson 11 and Bell-Holter 10.

Sophomore post Will Davis led UCI Monday night with 15 points, five rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals. He established a new school record this season with 88 blocked shots, breaking his own mark of 55 set last year.

Senior forward Mike Wilder scored 13 points, hitting three of six three-point attempts. He ends his career with 224 threes for the No. 3 mark in UCI history.

Junior guard Chris McNealy scored 11 points and added five rebounds.

The Golden Eagles, who led 34-23 at halftime, took their largest lead of the night at 44-25 on a basket by Glover with 14:55 remaining in the game.

The closest that the Anteaters came in the second half was 56-45 on a three by McNealy with 7:33 left, but ORU made nine of 10 free throws in the final 2:57 to seal the win and move onto a CIT quarterfinal game at Weber State Wednesday night.

The Golden Eagles outrebounded UCI, 43-33, and outscored the Anteaters, 20-12, off turnovers, including 16-4 in the first half when UCI committed 11 of their miscues.

ORU hit just one of 12 threes for the game, but was 23 of 30 from the free-throw line, including 19 of 26 in the second half.

The Anteaters were six of 17 from three-point range and hit eight of 14 free throws in the game.

“It’s hard when the season comes to an end, especially one like this that has been so fun,” UCI head coach Russell Turner said.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my team, especially the seniors. Derick Flowers, Adam Folker, Daman Starring and Mike Wilder made us winners and they deserve a huge amount of credit for being great leaders.

“I’m excited with what we have to build on, and a lot of that is due to the foundation built by these seniors,” Turner added.

“The younger guys have a heavy torch to carry on and I am excited to watch them do that.”

— From UC Irvine Athletics