GAME NOTES: The top team in the Big West Conference tries to remain perfect in league play tonight, as the UC Irvine Anteaters host the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at the Bren Events Center.
Not only are the Anteaters undefeated in four league outings to this point, thanks to a 72-66 victory over Cal State Northridge at home on Thursday night, the team is also enjoying a six-game win streak overall. Due to this recent run of strong play, UCI is all alone atop the Big West standings heading into the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Rainbow Warriors were also in action two nights ago on the mainland and used the opportunity to capture a 90-77 win over the UC Davis Aggies. With its 13 total victories, Hawaii is tied with UCI in that department in the Big West.
The Anteaters lead the all-time series by a count of 5-4, posting a 71-69 victory in the most recent meeting last March. Hawaii has won only once in the last six matchups, after opening the relationship in 1972 and posting three straight victories.
Christian Standhardinger scored 22 points, leading all five starters in double figures, as Hawaii secured the 17-point win over the UC Davis Aggies in Big West Conference play the last time out. Standhardinger, who registered a double-double by clearing 10 rebounds, also handed out five assists and made five steals for the Rainbow Warriors as they won for the second time in as many games. Isaac Fotu accounted for 20 points, Garrett Nevels 16, Brandon Spearman 15 points and Keith Shamburger 14, the latter shooting 4-of-7 behind the 3-point line.
Standhardinger leads the program in both scoring (18.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg) overall this season and that is also the case in conference play as well as those numbers jump to 20.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, respectively. Nevels checks in with 15.8 ppg in league bouts and Fotu another 16.3 ppg as the squad jumps up slightly to 83.2 ppg in Big West matchups compared to 82.3 ppg in all 18 tests in 2013-14.
The Anteaters found a way to overcome both 15 turnovers and a mere 13-of-22 shooting effort at the free-throw line, not to mention 9-of-29 (.310) behind the 3-point line during the win over Cal State Northridge two nights ago. Aside from Will Davis who was held scoreless through 11 minutes of action, every UCI starter scored in double figures, beginning with Luke Nelson with 14 points, followed by Chris McNealy with 12, while Alex Young and Mamadou Ndiaye tallied 10 points apiece, the latter clearing 10 rebounds and blocking seven shots as well.
The Anteaters are producing a solid 74.7 ppg at the moment, although that total could be even more impressive if not for the fact that the squad is shooting just 63.4 percent at the free-throw line. To help balance that shortfall, UCI is taking care of business on the glass with a rebounding advantage of 5.5 rpg, thanks to the efforts of Davis and his 7.1 rpg, to go along with 11.4 ppg which matches Nelson and is just behind McNealy who is posting 12.3 ppg.
If the Rainbow Warriors are getting comfortable playing away from home on the mainland, a team like UCI had better be ready for an all-out assault by Standhardinger and his cohorts in the paint tonight.
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