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Big West Notebook

February 26, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big West Conference Notebook

by Shaan Hassan

Irvine Takes Advantage of Other’s Pitfalls

Just weeks ago, UC Irvine (11-4) was in a rut, placed fourth in the
conference and its outlook wasn’t looking too positive. This columnist even
said that their winning ways were of the past. What do I know? The Anteaters
have moved beyond that and now stand in first place all alone, a spot once
occupied by UC Santa Barbara and Utah State.

Avenging an earlier loss, UCI defeated CSUN (5-9) Feb. 20, 64-57. Center
Adam Parada led Irvine with 18 points and five rebounds, while guard Jeff
Gloger added 12 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Forward
Curtis Slaughter paced the Matadors with 18 points, six assists, four
rebounds and three steals. In the game of the week, Irvine edged out Pacific
78-73 in overtime in Irvine. Forward Jordan Harris led UCI with 23 points
and Parada added a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Guard
Demetrius Jackson guided the Tigers (6-8) with 19 points. With that loss,
Pacific fell to sixth place in the conference.

Santa Barbara’s week proved uneventful. On Feb. 20, they fell victim to the
surging Cal Poly Mustangs 66-63 in San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly (8-6) was led
by center Shane Schilling’s 20 points. UCSB (10-4) was led by guard Nick
Jones’ 18 points, as the Gauchos shot 5-15 from beyond the arc. After that
defeat, UCSB then fell to Detroit 75-59, Feb. 23, in an out of conference
game in ESPN’s Bracket Buster. Just three players scored in double digits as
UCSB’s shooting woes continued. They shot 9-23 from behind the arc and 15-44
from the field.

Still hoping to remain in the top two of the conference, Utah State (10-5)
defeated Cal State Fullerton 62-41, Feb. 20. Only two Aggies scored in
double figures, with forward Desmond Penigar leading the way with 14 points
and seven rebounds, but that didn’t seem to matter as their defense was
nearly impenetrable. Guard Ralphy Holmes scored 24 points for Fullerton
(6-8), but no other Titan scored more than six points or took more than
seven shots. However, Utah State’s week had only begun and on Feb. 22 it got
much worse…in Riverside. Utah State was upset by UC Riverside 72-65 as
forward Nate Carter scored 25 points to lead UCR (5-9). Penigar led Utah
State with 17 points and seven rebounds and center Spencer Nelson added 14
points, but it wasn’t enough. Utah State shot 2-11 from three-point land,
while Riverside shot 11-18. Utah State now sits in third.

UCI, UCSB, Utah State and Cal Poly have all clinched playoff spots as Cal
Poly sits in the fourth spot out of eight possible teams.

Race for Eight

With four spots already clinched in the conference tournament, that leaves
four more spots for six teams. Let the amazing race begin.

Even before their overtime loss in Irvine, Pacific had already notched
another number in the loss column with their 70-61 upset loss to last place
Long Beach State (4-11). Forward Tony Darden scored 30 points on 10-15
shooting to lead the 49ers. Jackson played only eight minutes for the Tigers
and went scoreless.

Long Beach State wasn’t able to add to that momentum as they fell to CSUN
77-71, Feb. 22. Slaughter led CSUN with 20 points and eight assists, while
Darden led Long Beach State with 21 points.

Looking to stay in the top five, Idaho (7-8) defeated Riverside 68-64, Feb.
21. Forward Jon Tinnon led Idaho with 13 points, while Carter came off the
bench to help lead Riverside with 11 points. However, the Vandals were
unable to string two wins together as they fell to Fullerton 62-59 in double
overtime, Feb. 23. Holmes scored 20 points for Fullerton, while guard Dwayne
Williams scored 16 for Idaho.

The Week Ahead

With just two weeks remaining, the races are getting closer and the games
are getting tighter. Each game has some sort of influence on the tournament
now.

In the game of the week, UCI visits UCSB March 1 as the top two teams in the
conference square off. UCI also visits Cal Poly Feb. 27 as Cal Poly hopes to
maintain that fourth spot. Battling for the last spot in the post-season,
Riverside will visit CSUN Feb. 27. Pacific hosts Fullerton Feb. 27 as the
two teams hope to avoid the very last seed.

Darden Does It

After hitting 11 three-pointers and shooting 61 percent from behind the arc
and 50 percent from the field, it’s no wonder that Long Beach State forward
Tony Darden was named Big West Player of the Week.

In his team’s victory over Pacific, Darden scored 30 points and helped Long
Beach State erase a nine-point deficit. He also had three rebounds and five
assists. In the 49ers’ loss to CSUN, Darden didn’t disappoint, as he scored
21 points on 5-9 three-point shooting to go along with three assists and two
steals.

     

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