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Big West Notebook

February 13, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big West Conference Notebook

by Shaan Hassan

Down the Stretch They Go

Just weeks ago we were able to guess that Utah State, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and Pacific were the frontrunners for the conference crown. Now, we can nearly be certain of it. The next closest team to those four is Idaho sitting at 5-6. The two schools that were a threat – CSUN and Cal State Fullerton – are 4-6 and 4-7, respectively and are pretty much out of the race considering one of the elite doesn’t choke.

Utah State (8-3) had two games last week and neither resembled the Aggies team we’re accustomed to seeing. Their big showdown was Feb. 6 at UCSB (8-3). In what could be described as embarrassing fashion, the Aggies were dismantled by the Gauchos 63-50. A certain Aggies’ player had this line: two points on 1-9 shooting, no free throw attempts, four rebounds and zero assists. You would probably have to go through the entire roster before correctly identifying that player as forward Desmond Penigar. Center Spencer Nelson was Utah State’s leading scorer with 16 points. UCSB was led by forward Branduinn Fullove who had 21 points on 9-13 shooting and 3-4 on three’s. Forward Mark Hull added 13 points.

Against Cal Poly (5-6) Feb. 8, the Aggies barely survived 64-63. Penigar had a far better line this time with 18 points on 4-9 shooting and seven rebounds, despite having four turnovers with no assists. The Mustangs were led by forward Shane Schilling who had 19 points and eight rebounds.

With their win over Utah State, UCSB had a chance to tie the Aggies for first place with a win over Idaho (5-6) Feb. 8. With a score of 52-44, the Gauchos were able to do just that. The Gauchos’ leading scorer was Fullove who poured in 13 points despite just 5-16 shooting. No player on the Vandals’ squad had more than 10 points.

UC Irvine (7-4), after looking to the sky through most of the season, had to be looking down after hitting a big rut. But playing two sub-.500 teams never hurts and UCI was able to take full advantage of it. Against UC Riverside (4-7) Feb. 6, the Anteaters had no problem putting the Highlanders away 78-61. Guard Mike Hood led UCI with 18 points while guard Jeff Gloger and center Adam Parada each had 16 points. Parada also added 10 rebounds. UCR, meanwhile, had only two players score in double figures.

And in case anyone thought that win was a gimme for Irvine, the Anteaters quieted the naysayers Feb. 9 as they crushed Cal State Fullerton 72-52 on UCI’s Homecoming Night. Hood, again, was the leading scorer with 21 points while Gloger added 11 to go with six assists. The UCI defense held guard Ralphy Holmes to 10 points while center Pape Sow had 14 on 6-7 shooting. Those wins helped pushed UCI into the third spot in the conference.

Pacific (6-4) had just one game and that one game dropped them into fourth place. Feb. 8, they fell to CSUN 75-67. Tigers’ guard Christian Maraker was held to only 10 points, while guard Demetrius Jackson had 17 points. The Pacific defense did a great job-if it weren’t for three CSUN players. Guard Curtis Slaughter had 24 points on 6-10 shooting. Guard Ian Boylan had 18 points and forward Chris Davis chipped in 12. No other Matador had more than eight, with the next highest scorer having four points.

Week Review

There were only three games played last week that didn’t have significance and that didn’t involve the “Big Four.” Long Beach State (3-8) had two of them, which doesn’t say much for the 49ers, and by the end of the week they found themselves in sole position of the wine dweller spot.

They defeated Cal State Fullerton 79-73 Feb. 6. The 49ers had five players score in double figures with two scoring 16 points and two scoring 10 points. Forward Tony Darden led them with 19. Fullerton only managed three players in double figures with Sow leading the way with 22 points.

But with the 49ers’ hopes up, they were quickly let back down Feb. 8 in their 68-65 loss to Riverside. Darden, again, led the 49ers, but this time with 19 points. Center Aaron Hands led Riverside with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Idaho was able to solidify a fifth-place spot with a 68-65 win over Cal Poly Feb. 7. The Vandals had five players score in double figures. For the Mustangs, forward Varnie Dennis had 20 points and center Shane Schilling had 18. No other player had more than eight.

Week Preview

All we need to know about the conference will come Feb. 13. On that day, UCI visits Utah State and UCSB visits Pacific. These two games can violently shake up the conference leader board and make things very interesting in the next few weeks.

Each of the top four teams play two games total this week with all them being played Feb. 15. Utah State hosts Long Beach State, Pacific hosts Cal Poly, UCSB visits CSUN and UCI visits Idaho. Should Pacific and Irvine win all their games while UCSB and Utah State lose theirs, it would be UCI and Pacific sitting one and two, with Utah State and UCSB at three and four, respectively. Mark your calendar.

It’s All Good With Hood

He shot a ridiculous 81 percent from the field and an even crazier 78 percent from three-point range for the week. With those shooting numbers, it came as no surprise that the Big West Conference honored UCI guard Mike Hood as the Conference Player of the Week.

Hood scored 18 points in UCI’s win over UCR and then got hotter against Fullerton as he scored 21 points on 7-9 shooting in UCI’s 20-point blowout victory. In his last six games, Hood is 18-24 from behind the arc.


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