UC Irvine shows its might vs. Warriors, 93-68

Hawai’i center Bernardo da Silva finished with game-highs of 19 points and eight rebounds at first-place UC Irvine, but was saddled with foul trouble in the first half. (Brandon Flores Photography file photo)

Pouncing quickly and thoroughly on Hawai’i’s poor shooting and soft defense, UC Irvine overpowered the visiting Warriors, 93-68, in Big West Conference men’s basketball action Saturday night.

An announced crowd of 3,042 at the Bren Events Center watched Bent Leuchten score 15 points and grab six rebounds and Carter Welling add 14 points with seven boards as the first-place Anteaters improved to 17-6 overall and 10-1 in league play. 

Bernardo da Silva finished with a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds and JoVon McClanahan added 16 points, four boards and five assists off the bench for UH, which fell to 12-11, 4-7.

It didn’t take long for UC Irvine to grab control, as the Anteaters scored 10 quick points in the paint in jumping to a 13-6 lead. Making matters worse, da Silva picked up two early fouls and was whistled for his third with 7:51 remaining in the first half, with UCI already holding a 32-18 lead.

By halftime, the lead grew to 45-28 as the Warriors struggled from the field, shooting just 40 percent (12 of 30) including only 11 percent (1-for-9) from 3-point range.

Meanwhile, the Anteaters shot a torrid 58.6 percent (17 for 29) from the field and added 10 of 11 free throw attempts.

“We were just ridiculous (defensively),” Hawai’i coach Eran Ganot said in his postgame radio interview. “We got hit in the mouth … and kind of lost our minds. It’s just really disappointing. I think that’s something we take a lot of pride in, but … at this time of the year, you can’t have this Jekyll and Hyde kind of stuff. You’re going to have some tough stretches, but our bad stretches can’t be this bad, and obviously we gotta lengthen our good stretches.

“But give (UC Irvine) credit — they just basically put their head down and called us out physically.”

The Warriors finally awoke in the second half, eventually closing the gap to 14 points, but could never quite get over the hump into striking distance.

“(The Anteaters) are a great team, there are things we can learn from them in this game,” Ganot said. “I appreciated the guys giving us a little fight in the second half, but they (UC Irvine) set the tone.”

The Anteaters finished with an astounding 62 points in the paint, compared to just 34 for UH. UC Irvine out-rebounded the Warriors, 37 to 25, including a 27-14 margin on the defensive glass.

The Anteaters also outscored Hawai’i on fast breaks, 20 to zero.

The Warriors now will return home for Thursday’s game against UC San Diego.

Big West Standings

  1. UC Irvine (10-1)
  2. UC San Diego (9-2)
  3. UC Davis (9-2)
  4. UC Santa Barbara (6-5)
  5. Long Beach State (6-5)
  6. Cal State Northridge (5-6)
  7. Cal State Fullerton (4-6)
  8. HAWAI’I (4-7)
  9. Cal State Bakersfield (4-6)
  10. UC Riverside (3-8)
  11. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (0-11)

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