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Big West Notebook

January 28, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big West Conference Notebook

by Shaan Hassan

Three-Headed Monster Leads the Way

Just a few weeks into the conference season, it’s becoming apparent that
the same three teams that vied for the conference title last season may
do so again this season.

Utah State (6-2), UC Irvine (5-2), UC Santa Barbara (5-2) and even
Pacific (4-3) have clearly shown that they are a level above the rest.
However, it took one wild week to let it fall into place.

Utah State started Jan. 23 in an easy 77-58 win over UC Riverside (2-5)
powered by forward Desmond Penigar’s 18 points and center Spencer
Nelson’s 14 points and 12 rebounds as he continues his impressive
season. Center Klaus Schille led the Highlanders with 12 points.

The first half remained somewhat close, ending with an Aggie three-point
lead, but then Utah State shot an amazing 62 percent from the field to
cruise in the second half and the take the win.

Two days later, the Aggies hosted Cal State Fullerton (3-4) and
struggled mightily for the victory. Forward Cardell Butler hit two free
throws with under five seconds left to give the Aggies the 61-60
advantage. Penigar scored 11 for Utah State, while guard Ralphy Holmes
led Fullerton with 18 points as the Titans continue their up and down,
inconsistent season.

Irvine, meanwhile, started the week off right by visiting Pacific.

Normally, visiting the Tigers hasn’t turned out well for most teams, but
UCI changed that with a 66-62 win. They weren’t led by center Adam
Parada or even forward Jordan Harris who had 18 points and eight
rebounds, but rather guard-turned-recent-hero Mike Hood, whose play of
recently has been nothing short of remarkable. Hood scored 20 points on
8-10 shooting and 4-5 from behind the arc. Hood was also responsible for
the Anteaters victory over Utah State two weeks ago and had a huge shot
against Riverside prior to that. Guard Demetrius Jackson led the Tigers
with 17 points while forwards Christian Maraker and Matt Kemper added 11

However, as impressive as UCI was in that victory, they were equally
disappointing in their Jan. 25 69-63 loss at Cal State Northridge (3-4).
Guard Curtis Slaughter led the Matadors with 21 points on 8-14 shooting
and 4-6 from three-point range. Harris led UCI with 19 points while Hood
contributed with 17 and Parada added 10. CSUN has won three straight
games, now.

In UCSB’s lone game of the week, they handled Cal Poly SLO 70-61.
Leading the way for the Gauchos was forward Mark Hull who had a
double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Cal Poly (3-4) led early
on, but then UCSB delivered the thunder in their Thunderdome to take the
rest. UCSB hit 25 of 29 from the free throw line.

After their loss to UCI, Pacific had no problem coming back Jan. 26 to
destroy Long Beach State (1-6) 93-60, proving despite a 57 winning
percentage, they too are a team not to be forgotten in the race for the
west. The Tigers had five players score in double figures and two more
with eight points, while the 49ers’ leading scorer was forward Antoine
Jackson who could only muster 12 points, but did have 10 rebounds.

The Week Ahead

Of the games featured this week, four stand out: UCSB at UC Irvine Jan.
30, CSUN at Fullerton Jan. 30, Utah State at Idaho Feb. 1 and Pacific at
Fullerton Feb. 1.

The UCSB/UCI match-up features last season’s conference champion
visiting the team they knocked out of the tourney. Currently, UCSB and
UCI are third and second in the conference, respectively, and a loss
from either team here would send them down to the middle of the pack.

CSUN and Fullerton both stand at 3-4 so whichever team sweeps their
games this week they could suddenly find themselves in the top five in
the conference. CSUN also visits UCR.

Utah State is looking to stay perched atop the conference, while Idaho
(4-4), which won both their games last week by a combined 10 points, is
one of many teams hoping to ride a short winning streak to push
themselves into the top five.

Pacific plays UCR and Fullerton on the road and a week’s sweep could
easily tie them with the “Big Three” if one of them should lose.

CSUN’s Curtis Slaughters Opponents En Route to Honor

Due to his two consecutive 20-point performances, CSUN guard Curtis
Slaughter was named Big West Player of the Week Jan. 27. In his team’s
85-77 win over Long Beach State, Slaughter scored 20 points and added
six assists. Against UCI in CSUN’s 69-63 win, Slaughter had 21 points,
17 of which came in the second half including four three-pointers.


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