DJ Davis, UC Irvine win at UCSB to reclaim stake in Big West leadership – Orange County Register

SANTA BARBARA — DJ Davis nailed the moment and UC Irvine played a strong fundamental game to earn a good win at UC Santa Barbara and reclaim a share of first place in the Big West Conference.

Davis scored 25 points and Dawson Baker had 14 as the Anteaters took care of the ball and dominated the glass on their way to a 70-59 win over the Gauchos Wednesday night at Thunderdome.

Davis shot 8 to 16 from the field (3 to 7 from 3-point range) and 6 to 6 from the free throw line for the Anteaters (18-8 overall, 11-3 Big West). Baker added six rebounds, while Bent Leuchten had eight points and Devin Tillis had seven points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

UC Irvine overtook the Gauchos 38-26 and had a 13-4 advantage in offensive boards, resulting in a 15-2 advantage in second chance points and a 30-14 advantage in points in paint. The Anteaters also had a season-low seven turnovers and kept the Gauchos at 37% shooting in the second half to earn a regular-season series split.

“Really pleased to come out on the road and show the tenacity and guts like we did in the second half,” said UCI coach Russell Turner. “A lot of people have contributed to it, and that’s how we have to do it. It was a good win and satisfying for a group of guys who are working hard.”

Ajay Mitchell beat the Gauchos (20-5, 11-3) with 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting and a 7-for-8 shot from the foul line. Miles Norris had eight points and eight rebounds and Jakov Kukic had eight points and two steals.

The teams traded leads in the first half, but Davis buried a 40-foot-3 pointer late in the half to reduce the Gauchos’ lead to 35-33 at the break.

“DJ was great and I expect that from him in big games and big moments,” Turner said. “He has a knack for making shots late in the shot clock or at halftime.” DJ Davis, UC Irvine win at UCSB to reclaim stake in Big West leadership – Orange County Register

Russell Falcon

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