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Big West Notebook

January 20, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big West Conference Notebook

by Shaan Hassan

Hood Dons the Cape in UCI’s Thriller over Utah State

Jerry Green did it to them last year in Logan and guard Mike Hood did it to them this year
in Irvine.

With just 10 seconds left from the game being sent into a second overtime, Hood rescued UC
Irvine as he drove into the lane and put up an off-balance runner. The shot eventually
fell in after it hit nearly all portions of the rim to give UCI the 75-73 win over dreaded
Utah State, Jan. 15, in a conference match.

Prior to the shot, Hood connected on two free throws for a 73-70 lead with just over 25
seconds left, but Aggie forward Toraino Johnson hit a three-pointer to provide Hood yet
another chance to come to the rescue of the Anteaters.

The conference player of the year hopefuls for both teams had sub-par games. Center Adam
Parada for the Anteaters had 13 points and just two rebounds. Forward Desmond Penigar had
eight points and nine rebounds for the Aggies. Those who helped pick up the slack for
Irvine were Stanislav Zuzak who finished with 20 points and Hood who added 17 points. For
the Aggies, center Spencer Nelson scored 12 points with 10 rebounds while Johnson was the
Aggies’ leading scorer with 18 points.

Both teams shot reasonably well for the game as UCI shot 44 percent and Utah State shot 48
percent.

When approached after the game by New University men’s basketball beat writer James Kim,
Head Coach Pat Douglass replied, “The win at home was big. Utah State has been a
consistent power house, so if you don’t beat them at home it’s going to be hard to beat
them up at Logan.”

The Anteaters had 14 assists to just 11 turnovers while their defense held the Aggies to
12 assists and 16 turnovers. However, Utah State’s bench outscored UCI’s 22-10
The score was tied 10 times in addition to nine lead changes. The game’s closeness comes
to no surprise in this heated rivalry. The teams’ last three meetings have been decided by
four points.

The rematch comes Feb. 13 at Logan and will be televised on Fox Sports Net 2.

Change Atop the Leaderboard

Prior to Jan. 16, Pacific owned a perfect 3-0 conference record. By the end of the week
they were in fourth place.

Cal Poly SLO (3-3) handed Pacific their first conference loss in a 75-72 upset. Guard
Demetrius Jackson led the Tigers (3-2) with 23 points, one of four Tigers in double digit
scoring. The Mustangs had three players in double-digit scoring led by forward Varnie
Dennis who had 24 points and six rebounds.

Pacific then lost two days later to the hands of UC Santa Barbara, 67-52. Jackson scored
just eight points for Pacific, while forward Branduinn Fullove led the Gauchos (4-2) with
17 points.

With that win and an earlier 77-59 win over Cal State Northridge (1-4), Jan. 16, the
Gauchos moved themselves into third place in the conference.

Irvine (4-1) not only had a good game against Utah State (4-2), but they also had a good
week. They defeated Idaho (2-4) 58-45, Jan. 18, as forward Jordan Harris led the Anteaters
with 19 points and forward Matt Okoro came off the bench to score 14. That victory
combined with Pacific’s two losses, the Anteaters climbed into the conference lead.

Cal State Fullerton (3-2) continued their roller coaster season with a 74-66 loss to Idaho
State in a non-conference game and then fell to UC Riverside (2-3) 47-41, Jan. 18. Long
Beach State (1-4) earned their first conference win against Idaho 59-55, Jan. 16, but then
fell victim to Utah State 63-55, Jan. 18.

Utah State’s Nelson Earns Player of the Week

For his efforts during the week of Jan. 13, Aggie center Spencer Nelson was named Big West
Conference Player of the Week. In Utah State’s 81-67 win over Cal Poly, he scored 16
points in 17 minutes and added three rebounds. In the Aggies’ 75-59 win over UCSB, he
piled up a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds.

For the week, Nelson shot 11-12 and made 7-8 from the free throw line.

Hood, Fullove Share Player of the Week Honors

Guard Mike Hood from UC Irvine had such an incredible week, it was easy for him to earn the recognition. But UC Santa Barbara’s forward Branduinn Fullove also had a great week, thus providing both players the honor of being named Big West Conference Players of the Week, Jan. 20

Hood’s heroics have gone well-documented as his off-balance runner won the game for UCI against Utah State. That shot helped tie a season-high 17 points for Hood. Prior to that shot two weekends ago, he hit another huge go-ahead shot at Riverside.

Fullove shot over 47 percent from the field and hit all 14 of his free throws for the week in the Gauchos’ wins over CSUN and Pacific. Against CSUN, he scored 15 points to go with seven rebounds and against Pacific he scored 17 points and a season-high eight rebounds.

     

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