IRVINE, Calif. – In a matchup of the top defensive teams in the Big West, UC Irvine got the better of Hawai’i, 84-56, Saturday night at the Bren Events Center.
UH dropped to 6-9 overall and 0-2 in the Big West with their second straight road loss to open league play. Meanwhile, the Anteaters (9-9, 2-0) picked up their fourth straight win.
In a meeting of last year’s Big West co-champions, UCI got it done on both ends of the court. The Anteaters, who lead the Big West in field goal percentage defense, held UH without a field goal for nearly a 10 minute stretch to spur the game’s decisive first-half run. Meanwhile, UCI used their elite size to shoot a season-high 57 percent from the floor and hold a 39-28 advantage on the glass.
Jaron Martin and Ioannis Dimakopoulos each scored 12 points to lead a balanced UCI attack that saw 13 players get into the scoring column. Freshman Matthew Owies led UH with a career-high 13 points.
For the second straight road game, UH got off to a hot start. The ‘Bows were crisp offensively, scoring nine of first 11 points of the game and held a 16-13 lead after a Owies three-pointer midway through the first half.
But it was all Anteaters after that. UCI out-scored UH 26-4 in the final 11 minutes of the first half to take a comfortable 39-20 lead at the break. An Ido Flaisher layup late in the first half ended a stretch of nearly 10 minutes in which UH went without a field goal. UH shot just 26 percent in the first half, including just 2-of-18 on three-pointers.
Irvine scored the first six points of the second half to expand its lead, and despite UH’s effort, it would be a lead that UCI would maintain throughout. The 28-point final difference marked UH’s largest margin of defeat this year.
The Rainbow Warrior next return to the islands to host five straight league games, starting with its Big West home opener versus Long Beach State on Saturday, January 14. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.