Men's Basketball: 'Eaters capture capper

On the final day of its busiest weekend of the season, the UC Irvine men's basketball team made sure it had plenty of time to cruise.

The Anteaters finished the opening half on a 12-0 run to claim a 21-point intermission advantage and went on to handle Eastern Washington, 81-58, in the finale of the three-game, three-day 2K Sports Classic at Bren Events Center.

Freshman guard Luke Nelson had the breakout performance with a career-high 19 points, including five of the Anteaters' 11 three-pointers. Nelson, an import from Great Britain, made six of eight field-goal tries and five of seven from three-point range.

Sophomore guard Alex Young was four for six from three-point range on his way to 16 points and a spot on the all-tournament team, while junior forward Will Davis had 10 points and eight rebounds to secure tournament MVP honors.

Mamadou Ndiaye, a 7-foot-6 freshman center, was credited with 10 blocked shots, breaking his own Big West Conference single-game record. Ndiaye had five points and seven rebounds and continues to show Coach Russell Turner how much impact he can bring in his first collegiate season.

"He's just a factor, a real factor," Turner said. "It's hard to overstate the impact he has defensively as a rim protector and one who discourages penetration and shots around the rim."

Turner also had praise for Nelson, whose previous single-game high had been 12.

"Luke looked confident today," Turner said. "It's not an easy thing to just break into college basketball as a freshman. The performance he had tonight did not surprise me. In fact, I'm kind of surprised we haven't seen that yet. I doubt we'll see it regularly, because he is young, But he is going to get better and better."

Turner praised the energy level of his team, which bounced back less than 24 hours after Saturday's 74-68 loss to Boston University.

By handing Eastern Washington its first loss in the three-day, round-robin event, which is a tournament in name only, UCI won two of three over the weekend and takes a 4-3 record into Saturday's road date at Sacramento State.

"It's easy to look good when you make a bunch of threes," Turner said after his team was 11 of 19 from beyond the arc (57.9%), while holding the Eagles (4-2), who came in shooting 44.9% from threedom, to four of 21 from three-point distance (19%). "But some of the reasons why college basketball is a great sport is because energy and passion have such an effect on how games get decided. I don't think we had every bit of what we could have [Saturday], but we showed a strong commitment to being better with our energy tonight and we played better because of that."

Sophomore Dominique Dunning had nine points off the bench and senior Chris McNealy had a team-best four assists.

Tyler Harvey led the Eagles with 21 points.

UC Irvine 81, Eastern Washington 58

EWU – Seiferth 8, Jois 8, Harvey 21, Brandon 9, Kelly 6, Miljkovic 3, Reuter 3.

3-pt. goals – Harvey 2, Brandon 1, Miljkovic 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

UCI – Davis 10, Ndiaye 5, Nelson 19, Young 16, McNealy 4, Dunning 9, Best 7, Wright 5, Souza 3, Ryan 2, Dimakopoulos 1.

3-pt. goals – Nelson 5, Young 4, Souza 1, Wright 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

Halftime – UCI, 81-58.

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