UC Irvine’s men’s basketball team will be out to bounce back Saturday night from a 67-64 Big West Conference loss to Cal State Fullerton in front of 1,484 fans at the Bren Center Thursday night.
The Anteaters (6-13, 1-2) face Cal State Northridge (3-13, 0-2) on the road at 7 p.m.
UCI had a 35-28 lead at halftime against league leading Cal State Fullerton (10-5, 3-0) on Thursday and led by 11 points early in the second half. But the Titans took the lead in the second half and held off several comeback bids by UCI in the final minutes.
“We didn’t defend as well, we gave them a bunch of points in the paint, we gave them a tremendous number of points on the free throw line, we didn’t take good care of the ball,” UCI Coach Russell Turner said emphatically after the game. “Halftime, I think we had five or six turnovers and finished with 16 (officially 14).
“We didn’t take care of the ball, we didn’t defend the paint and we gave them free throws.”
Fullerton, led by Jackson Rowe (14 points) and Kyle Allman (13 points) made 23 of 31 free throws while UCI made 9 of 12 free throws.
Evan Leonard with 20 points and Eyassu Worku with 14 points were the only players scoring in double figures for UCI.
Jamal Smith made two free throws with12 seconds left to give Fullerton a 66-62 lead and at the other end, Leonard’s 3-point jumper fell off the rim. Austen Awosika, after a foul, sank one of two free throws to give the Titans a five-point lead with six seconds left.
“We had our chances and we weren’t able to make the plays,” Turner said. “We had the ball with a…