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Big West Notebook

March 4, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big West Conference Notebook

by Shaan Hassan

UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine Neck-and-Neck

The top seed for the conference tournament has been up for grabs nearly all
season, so it comes as no surprise that with just one week left in the
regular season, we have a new first place team: UC Santa Barbara (12-4).
The Gauchos were in second place prior to this week, but things took a turn
when they hosted first place UC Irvine (12-5), March 1, in the game of the
week. UCSB handedly took care of business as they defeated Irvine 67-51. The
Gauchos held the Anteaters to 18 first half points, while they scored 38.

Guard Nick Jones scored 16 points and forward Branduinn Fullove followed
with 15. Irvine was led by guard Jeff Gloger’s 13 points and forward Jordan
Harris’ 15 points. No other Anteater scored in double figures.

Prior to this match-up, both teams won their previous games. UCSB had no
problem dismantling Long Beach State 70-46, Feb. 27. Fullove was UCSB’s
leading scorer with 11 points, but 10 different Gauchos got their names in
the scoring column. Forward Tony Darden led the 49ers (4-13) with 11 points.

On that same day, Irvine held upstart Cal Poly SLO in check 68-62 behind
Harris’ 18 points and 11 rebounds. Gloger added 12 points and eight
rebounds. Cal Poly (9-7) was led by forward Varnie Dennis’ 21 points. Both
teams shot a combined 6-30 from behind the arc, 40 percent from the field
and nearly identical from the free throw line. Irvine shot 90 percent on
30-33 and Cal Poly shot 80 percent on 20-25.

Despite UCI and UCSB being highlighted in the game of the week, Utah State
(10-6) was featured in the shock of the week. Hoping to keep pace with
Irvine, the Aggies were upset by 8-8 Idaho 52-51, March 1 in Logan. This
game was clearly a defensive struggle as forward Tyrone Hayes led Idaho with
20 points, but no other Vandal scored more than nine. Utah State was led by
forward Desmond Penigar’s 11 points and 11 rebounds, but just seven Aggies
scored, three of which couldn’t top five points.

The Great 8 Is Clinched

Thanks to UC Riverside’s two losses last week to sink them to 5-11, Cal
State Fullerton (7-9) clinched the eighth and final spot in the conference.
Aside from the top three teams and Fullerton, the teams qualifying for the
conference tournament include Cal Poly, Idaho, CSUN (7-9) and Pacific (7-9).

Cal Poly was able to hold on to their fourth spot for the time being with a
76-64 win over Long Beach State, March 1. Dennis led Cal Poly with 22 points
and 10 rebounds, while Darden led Long Beach State with 23 points.

With a pair of wins, CSUN vaulted into the sixth spot. First, they defeated
UC Riverside, Feb. 27, in overtime 78-70. Forward Curtis Slaughter led the
Matadors with 21 points, while guard Ian Boylan added 17 points and 11
rebounds. Forward Nate Carter led the Highlanders with 22 points, including
the game-tying three-pointer with .2 seconds left to send the game into
overtime. In their second game, CSUN took care of business against
Fullerton, defeating them 70-62, March 1. Again, Slaughter led the way for
CSUN with 18 points, while center Pape Sow led Fullerton with 19 points and
12 rebounds.

After at one point, being among the top four teams in the conference,
Pacific has gone on a slide and now sits in the seventh spot. Their week
started poorly Feb. 27 with a loss to Fullerton 55-52. No Tiger scored in
double figures, as Pacific shot 17-50 from the field and 6-26 from behind
the arc. Guard Frederic Holm-Hadulla led Fullerton with 15 points on 5-9
shooting from three-point land. Pacific was able to recover March 1 against
Riverside as they defeated the Highlanders 77-65. Guard Miah Davis scored 19
points for Pacific, while guard Kevin Butler scored 13 for Riverside.

Week Preview

With just one week left in the regular season and several seeds still
undecided, plenty of big games loom ahead for the Big West.
UCSB has two road games, one at Fullerton and the other at Riverside, and
should they win both, they win the conference outright. If they should
falter in either game, and UCI defeats Long Beach State in the Anteaters’
only game, both UCI and UCSB would be tied, but Santa Barbara would still
hold the title due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Utah State will try to hold on to their third seed in both their home games
against CSUN and Pacific, while Cal Poly hopes to catch them in their games
at Riverside and Fullerton. Idaho’s lone game is at home against Pacific.

Shock of the Week Provides Player of the Week

Not only did the Idaho/Utah State game contribute to the shocker of the
week, but it also provided the Big West Conference Player of the Week as the
honor went to Idaho forward Tyrone Hayes.

Hayes scored a game-high 20 points on 6-11 shooting and 8-10 from the free
throw line in addition to eight rebounds, two steals and a block in 33
minutes. The Vandal win broke a nine-game losing streak to the Aggies and
marked just the seventh time in the past six years that Utah State has lost
in the Smith Spectrum.


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