IRVINE – It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that 3-point baskets count for more than 2-point baskets.
UC Irvine entered its Big West Conference matchup against Long Beach State Saturday night as one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation.
LBSU, on the other hand, relies on their inside game more than most other teams.
Both rivals played to their advantage in their first meeting of the season, but the Anteaters’ specialty made a bigger difference, allowing them to claim an 87-70 win at the Bren Events Center.
UCI came in fifth with 3-point field goal percentage (40.9) and then shot 13 to 28 from behind the arc (46.4) against LBSU.
“It felt like we controlled the game,” said UCI coach Russell Turner. “When shots are fired at us like tonight, it’s quite different.”
DJ Davis shot 5 for 10 from 3-point range and scored 20 points to speed UCI (10-5 overall, 3-0 Big West Conference).
Dawson Baker scored 16 points for a tenth straight game in double digits, and Bent Leuchten added 15 points for the Anteaters, who lost their last two home games. Pierre Crockrell II added 10 assists.
Long Beach had scored 64.4% of their points this season from 2-point field goals coming into play, which was the second-highest in the nation.
Lassina Traore, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, posted a career-high 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for Long Beach (7-9, 1-3) but didn’t get much help inside or out. Starting guards Joel Murray and Jadon Jones were combined 4 to 24 from the field on a night that saw Long Beach shoot 39.7% from the field.
LBSU tried to keep up with UCI from afar but only shot 2 for 16 from behind the 3-point line.
LBSU also played without junior guard Marcus Tsohonis, the team’s third-best scorer (12.1), who injured his ankle in the first minute against UC Riverside last Saturday and missed his second straight game.
The Anteaters shot 57.1% from the floor in the first half, including 8 for 13 from 3-point range, to build a 51-34 lead.
Davis helped the Anteaters get off to a hot start by scoring 12 points in the first 6:04.
His three-point game sparked a 16-4 run that gave UCI a 29-17 lead, with 10:48 in the first half.
The Anteaters missed just two of their first nine 3-point attempts.
Traore helped Long Beach stay close early in the first half, scoring 11 points in the first 11 minutes, all in the paint, but UCI limited him to two shots and no points for the rest of the half.
Leuchten, a 7-footer from Bayern, Germany who has averaged 20.7 points in his last three games, hit a 3-point pass from an inbound pass to beat the half-time buzzer and UCI his biggest to gain an advantage.
The second half started similar to the first.
Traore made an inside basket on the first possession, but Davis responded with a 3-pointer from the baseline to extend the lead to 54-36.
Aboubacar Traore (10 points, seven rebounds, five assists) then made a short jump for LBSU, but Baker came back with a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 56-38.
Baker also had success driving to the center and making contact.
“It’s how I’ve played my whole life,” he said. “I’m used to falling and getting up, bruising a little bit, and I think that’s part of what makes me a great player.”
Long Beach managed to get back to 15 points, but Lassina Traore missed the front end of a one-and-one at 12:43 and the Anteaters responded with a 10-0 run to end the game.
The Anteaters ranked 21st in the nation in bench scoring (29.7) and earned 25 points from their reserves against LBSU.
Andre Henry led the benchers with nine points and seven rebounds.
“I say all the time you have to be ready when your name is called, and Andre was that tonight,” Turner said. “His seven rebounds showed his focus and intensity.”
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/07/uc-irvines-3-point-shooting-keys-rout-of-long-beach-state/ UC Irvine’s 3-Point Shooting Key Route from Long Beach State – Orange County Register