Irvine, CA – It was apparent from observing warmups, that the UC Irvine Anteaters (2-2) were determined to pound the ball inside against Pacific (1-3). That is exactly what they did outscoring the Tigers 40-14 in the paint en route to a 72-65 victory at the Bren Center.
Ioannis Dimakopoulos scored a career high 20 points including 14 in the 2nd half and Freshman forward Tommy Rutherford came in off the bench and chipped in 11 points. Dimakopoulos was 9-of-13 from the field which included several great looks from the post and even stepped out to hit a 3 pointer with the shot clock running down. He used his great size (7-2, 255) and ability to finish with both hands to get almost anything he wanted all night long. He was definitely aided by the great ball movement as Irvine constantly moved the ball from side to side and found the bigs in the post all game. Pacific was hard hedging and trapping on ball screens and the Anteater guards were content to take what was given to them and reverse the ball and allow the ball to be thrown down in the post where UCI was clearly at an advantage.
Senior guard Jaron Martin came in leading UCI with 17.7 ppg but was held to just nine in this contest. He only shot 1-of-6 from the field but did knock down all seven of his free throw attempts and led the team in rebounds (8) and assists (6). He did an outstanding job of executing the game plan and efficiently running the offense. With UCI having nine freshman on the roster, it was the leadership and experience of Martin and Dimakopoulous that carried them in this contest. Spencer Rivers, the younger brother of Clippers Guard Austin Rivers, came in off the bench and scored all eight of his points in the first half including a three at the buzzer to give UCI a 34-32 halftime advantage. After Pacific tied the game at 50, Dimakopoulos scored 10 of the final 22 points for UCI to put the game out of reach. The only time he seemed bothered was when he was doubled in the post and he immediately threw the ball away. It was somewhat surprising that he wasn’t doubled more but expect more teams to look to make him a passer going forward.
UCI would push the lead up to as many as 11 but Pacific would not go away. 1st year Head Coach Damon Stoudemire kept imploring his team to be patient and run their sets. Behind the hot shooting of Long Beach State transfer Jack Williams, Pacific would fight back to tie the game twice but could not get over the hump. Williams led the Tigers with 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench. He displayed a very quick, compact shooting stroke that saw him knock down 4-of-7 3-point shots. Guard David Taylor also displayed excellent range knocking down 3-of-5 3’s and scoring 16 points. The Tigers were much more aggressive attacking the basket in the 2nd half getting to the line 21 times and making 16 to get back in the game. Jacob Lampkin also came in off the Pacific bench and contributed 10 points and four rebounds in the 2nd half, finishing with 14 and six for the night. Overall the bench of Pacific contributed 37 of the teams 65 points. Ray Bowles (12) and T.J. Wallace (18.5) were held to a combined 12 points on 2-of- 18 shooting. Through they struggled from the field, both players showed good strength and athleticism by being able to attack the paint. It just didn’t fall for them on this night.
UC Irvine had a school best 28 wins last season advancing to the finals of the CIT. They were able to pull out this victory without last year’s All Big West 1st team Senior guard Luke Nelson, who led the team with 13.7 ppg. The Anteaters will be in the mix to compete for the conference crown and look to advance to the NCAA Tournament. UCI has now won 49 of its last 60 games at home.
This article was written by Joe Trabucco, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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