UCR avenged their loss at UCI’s homecoming in late January last night by beating the Anteaters in their own homecoming game, 72-69. Although the Anteaters deserve credit for battling back in the second half, recovering from a 16-point deficit in the second half to force OT, a 7-0 UCR run to start the extra period proved too much for UCI in the end.
The loss locked UCI into the seventh seed in the Big West Tournament, where they will take on Cal State Fullerton in the first round.The Titans upsetted Long Beach State on Saturday, dashing Long Beach State’s hopes for a perfect 16-0 conference slate. It looks grim for UCI, as they were swept by the Titans this season, traditionally a bad sign for the third game. The first time around, CSF built a gigantic lead which UCI made somewhat respectable in the second half, never really challenging for the lead. In the second game, UCI and CSF had a full-fledged shootout, with UCI scoring 94 but giving up 100 points to the Titans. Some fans may point at that game as a sign that the UCI have a chance at upsetting the Titans, but do not forget that CSF was missing senior forward Omondi Amoke in that game. He gives them a huge post presence that UCI will be hard-pressed to match.
Congratulations to Will Davis II, who broke the UCI all-time single season record for blocks.He picked up three more against UCR, finishing with 54 on the season, breaking the previous record of 52 from Dee Boyer in the 1993-94 season.
Chris McNealy again had a good offensive day, going 8-13 with 19 points. Encouraging to see Chris keep up the strong play as the season ends; hopefully it will carry into next season.
It should be noted that Travis Souza has played his way into the rotation, ahead of such scholarship players as Collin Woods and Marcus Bradley. Souza had the game-tying 3-pointer with less than 5 seconds left in the game last night, but also missed five other 3-point tries in the game. It should be interesting to see how Souza’s career develops as a walk-on.
The Big West Tournament starts on Thursday, with the Anteaters slated to play around 2:30 (30 minutes after the first game which begins at noon). The looming question is obviously whether Long Beach State will win the Tournament and make it into the NCAA Tournament with the highest seed that the Big West has seen in some time. I’m sure CSF and two-time defending tournament champs UCSB will have something to say about that. I’ll see you all at the Honda Center!