USC’s Boogie Ellis electrifies crowd in victory over Utah

LOS ANGELES — Midway through the first half, the USC student section at the Galen Center began lifting their arms in anticipation every time guard Boogie Ellis went into his shooting motion.

And for the most part, the Memphis transfer obliged, with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting in a 93-73 victory over Utah in the Trojans’ Pac-12 opener on Wednesday night.

“When he gets hot, he gets hot,” guard Max Agbonkpolo said of Ellis. “When he gets hot, we try to give him the ball as much as we can because if we can keep on scoring off him, everything will work out.”

The game quickly got out of hand at the end of the first half as the Trojans closed on a 23-7 run before heading to the locker room, finishing 13 for 14 from the field. The Utes were short-handed upon arrival in L.A. with eight scholarship players available, and it only got worse when forward Branden Carlson left with a leg injury.

But fully healthy or not, it might not have mattered with the way No. 20 USC, and Ellis specifically, shot the ball on Wednesday.

As the Trojans (7-0 overall, 1-0 Pac-12) put some distance between themselves and the visitors, Ellis was in the middle of it all. He howled at the student section after a steal and one-handed dunk. That was soon followed by an Isaiah Mobley layup off the glass to push USC’s lead to eight and force a Utah timeout.

That did little to help the Utes (5-2, 0-1) regroup, and soon Ellis hit back-to-back 3-pointers and then stole a pass from Rollie Worster and took it the distance for another tomahawk dunk to push USC’s lead to 17 with 1:14 left in the half, the crowd of 3,754 rollicking with every bucket and steal.

“It’s extremely fun, especially after a year of (what) I call silence,” Mobley said. “Everyone’s happy and we’re trying to keep it that way and we’re trying to build on that momentum.”

Ellis finished the first half with 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

It wasn’t entirely Ellis’ show. Mobley had an easy time scoring with post moves and hook shots to the tune of a team-high 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Drew Peterson had a couple of nice spin moves on drives to the paint to free himself up for easy layups. Joshua Morgan added four blocked shots off the bench.

And the Trojans did what they do best, namely defend and rebound. USC held Utah to a 1-for-7 start from the floor and the Utes went 11 for 37 in the first half.

Meanwhile, USC won the rebounding battle 51-32, Mobley leading the team with a career-high 13 for his second double-double in as many games. The junior forward also added two of USC’s nine blocked shots.

“He was a complete player tonight,” head coach Andy Enfield said. “It was great to see.”

When the Trojans went without a field goal for 4:08 in the second half and the Utes got within 16, Enfield inserted Ellis back into the game. Ellis promptly dribbled around a screen at the top of the arc and calmly sank a deep 3-pointer.

Still, USC was having trouble closing out the Utes as it missed 10 second-half free throws and allowed Utah guard Both Gach to score a career-high 28.

But Mobley put the game away with five straight points and a blocked shot to set up an Ellis lob to Agbonkpolo, who scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half to help close it out.

“We withstood it, and we shared the ball on offense and we did what we had to do,” Enfield said.

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USC comeback attempt falls short in loss to No. 13 BYU

  • Quarterback Jaxson Dart #2 of the USC Trojans celebrates with teammate wide receiver Kyle Ford #81 of the USC Trojans after running for a touchdown against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Lopini Katoa #4 of the Brigham Young Cougars runs for yardage against linebacker Ralen Goforth #10 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Puka Nacua #12 of the Brigham Young Cougars catches a pass for first down against cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart #6 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Jaren Hall #3 of the Brigham Young Cougars passes against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Brigham Young Cougars fans celebrate against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Tyler Allgeier #25 of the Brigham Young Cougar runs for s first down past linebacker Drake Jackson #99 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Tyler Allgeier #25 of the Brigham Young Cougar runs for s first down past linebacker Drake Jackson #99 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Vavae Malepeai #6 of the USC Trojans runs for yardage against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn reacts during a NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the Brigham Young Cougars at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Puka Nacua #12 of the Brigham Young Cougars catches a pass for touchdown past safety Isaiah Pola-Mao #21 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Puka Nacua #12 of the Brigham Young Cougars celebrates after catching a pass for touchdown against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Donte Williams of the USC Trojans walks past quarterback Jaxson Dart #2 of the USC Trojans against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Donte Williams of the USC Trojans reacts against Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Darwin Barlow #22 of the USC Trojans runs for yardage against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Jaxson Dart #2 of the USC Trojans is tackled by linebacker Max Tooley #31 of the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Jaxson Dart #2 of the USC Trojans passes against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Vavae Malepeai #6 of the USC Trojans runs for yardage against defensive back Kaleb Hayes #18 of the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Darwin Barlow #22 of the USC Trojans runs for yardage against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Jaxson Dart #2 of the USC Trojans scrambles for yardage against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. #1 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for first down against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. #1 of the USC Trojans runs a kick off back for yardage against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Safety Calen Bullock #27 of the USC Trojans breaks up a pass intended for tight end Isaac Rex #83 of the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr. #1 of the USC Trojans runs a kick off back for yardage against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Tyler Allgeier #25 of the Brigham Young Cougar rests after running for a touchdown against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Tyler Allgeier #25 of the Brigham Young Cougarruns for a touchdown against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Running back Tyler Allgeier #25 of the Brigham Young Cougarruns for a touchdown against the USC Trojans in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Jaxson Dart #2 of the USC Trojans celebrates with teammate wide receiver Kyle Ford #81 of the USC Trojans after running for a touchdown against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Quarterback Jaxson Dart #2 of the USC Trojans runs for a touchdown against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • USC Trojans sports Information Director, Tim Tessalone, center, with his family is retiring after 43 years during a NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the Brigham Young Cougars at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • USC Trojans cheerleaders with the “V” for victory sign in the first half of a NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the Brigham Young Cougars at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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LOS ANGELES — Home games have been short on feel-good stories this season for USC. But in their last game at the Coliseum, against their best opponent of the year, it seemed the Trojans had a surprise up their sleeve.

The freshmen tried to salvage senior day. QB Jaxson Dart found Gary Bryant Jr. for a 10-yard slant and the go-ahead touchdown with 11:03 to play, then waited patiently until freshman tight end Lake McRee got open for the two-point conversion to put USC up a field goal. When the Cougars tried to answer, freshman safety Calen Bullock intercepted the ball in the end zone.

But the Trojans’ good fortune wasn’t meant to last. BYU running back Jackson McChesney put the Cougars back up with a 7-yard touchdown run with 3:57 remaining. USC drove all the way to the red zone and faced fourth-and-6 with 44 seconds left.

The Trojans completed the pass, but Bryant’s in route was half a yard short, turning the ball over on downs and sealing BYU’s 35-31 victory, eliminating the Trojans from bowl contention.

USC had its moments in the first half, like a 62-yard Gary Bryant Jr. kickoff return to the open the game and some physicality on defense. But Bryant’s kickoff only resulted in a field goal, and the defense struggled to get off the field, allowing BYU to run 41 plays for 279 yards.

On one drive, the Trojans hit bingo for defensive ineptitude. First, a pass interference call on Steele, followed by a misdirection that sprung BYU quarterback Jaren Hall for a first-down run. Then a blown coverage resulting in a 36-yard pass and an illegal substitution penalty to give the Cougars a more-manageable first-and-goal.

There was only one fitting way for the drive to end, and that was with BYU running back Tyler Allgeier breaking two tackles on his way to a 5-yard touchdown run.

Despite these inane mistakes, USC was within striking distance at halftime. Quarterback Jaxson Dart picked up a fumbled snap and broke a tackle en route to a touchdown run. And a Hall pass ricocheted off corner Isaac Taylor-Stuart and was intercepted by linebacker Kana’i Mauga to set up a Parker Lewis field goal as the half ended to get USC within eight.

The Trojans kept shaking off momentum killers in the second half.

After a Steele interception was overturned by a questionable roughing-the-passer call, BYU turned around and found Keanu Hill for a 41-yard touchdown pass to extend the Cougar lead to 15. But several strong carries by Darwin Barlow set up a fourth-down touchdown run by Vavae Malepeai to get USC back within a possession.

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SoCal Challenge: Fresno State outlasts Santa Clara in title game

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Tournament MVP Orlando Robinson had 22 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots to help Fresno State beat Santa Clara, 59-52, in the championship game of the SoCal Challenge on Wednesday night at JSerra High.

Jordan Campbell added 12 points and several momentum-changing plays for Fresno, including a blocked shot that he followed with an emphatic windmill dunk in transition.

Fresno (5-0), which led for more than 33 minutes, locked down on defense, had a considerable advantage at the free-throw line and held Santa Clara (5-1) to a season-low 36 percent from the field to help offset its own shooting woes.

The Broncos, who shot 55% during their 5-0 start, made four of their first five shots but just 14 of 45 the rest of the night. Fresno shot just 32.7% overall (16 for 49), but its defense and free-throw shooting (22 for 25) were enough to overcome that.

“We maintained our defensive intensity,” Fresno coach Justin Hutson said. “All our guys would’ve liked to make a few more shots, we were capable of making a few more shots. Gotta give Santa Clara some credit for that also, but we didn’t hang our head when we didn’t make shots, we still got down and made stops.”

Fresno outscored Santa Clara 32-27 in the second half with 17 of those points coming via free throws. The Broncos were just 9 for 12 from the line for the night, and Fresno also outscored them 16-7 in points off turnovers, committing just eight turnovers while forcing Santa Clara into 15.

Isaiah Hill’s 3-pointer with less than eight minutes into the game (his only basket on 10 attempts) gave the Bulldogs a 16-13 lead and they never trailed again. Robinson’s layup with 13:36 left in the second half gave Fresno its first double-digit lead at 40-29.

Keshawn Justice made back-to-back 3-pointers to get Santa Clara within 53-49 with 1:22 left, but Fresno iced the win at the free-throw line.

Fresno is off to its best start since the 2015-16 season when the Bulldogs also opened 5-0, later won the Mountain West Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament.

PJ Pipes and Justice paced the Broncos with 12 points each while Jalen Williams added 10. Parker Braun pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

In other games …

TCU 73, Pepperdine 64: Mike Miles (16 points) continued his streak of scoring in double figures in every game this season to lead TCU past Pepperdine.

Emanuel Miller added 15 points and 10 rebounds and scored on a hook shot and a jump shot wrapped around a missed Pepperdine basket to help squelch the Waves’ late rally. His burst of four points in 23 seconds was part of an 8-3 run as TCU (4-1) kept some distance on Pepperdine after the Waves had closed to 56-53.

The win was No. 100 for Coach Jamie Dixon since he took over the Horned Frogs program. Dixon became the fifth head coach with 100 wins at TCU.

Charles O’Bannon added 12 points as nine of 11 Horned Frogs scored. TCU was just 3 for 18 from 3-point range but shot 50% overall (27 for 54) and dominated the boards, outrebounding Pepperdine 38-22.

Jan Zidek scored 17 points to lead four Waves (2-5) in double figures. Houston Mallette added 15 with three 3-pointers. Mike Mitchell had 10 points and eight assists and Jadé Smith added 10 points.

TCU went on a 10-2 run over four minutes late in the first half to take a 32-27 halftime lead after eight lead changes and a tie, holding the Waves to two free throws in the final 4:48 of the half.

Utah Valley 74, Nicholls State 63: Connor Harding and Blaze Nield each scored 13 points as Utah Valley had six players score in double figures.

The Wolverines (5-1) built a 16-0 lead and extended the margin to 22 points (44-22) by halftime. Utah Valley had 13 assists on 24 field goals.

Devante Carter scored 17 points in reserve for the Colonels (4-3) and Emmanuel Little grabbed 10 rebounds.

Cal Poly (SLO) 67, Idaho 63: Kyle Colvin recorded a double-double with a career-high 28 points and 10 rebounds and Cal Poly edged Idaho 67-63.

Brantly Stevenson had 10 points and eight rebounds for Cal Poly (2-4), which snapped its four-game losing streak. Kobe Sanders added seven rebounds.

Mikey Dixon had 18 points for the Vandals (1-5), now owners of a four-game skid. Trevante Anderson added 11 points and Philip Pepple Jr. blocked four shots.

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E.J. Anosike, Cal State Fullerton top George Washington in home opener

FULLERTON — E.J. Anosike had a career-high 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Cal State Fullerton pulled away to beat George Washington, 74-59, in its home opener on Tuesday night at Titan Gym.

Anosike, a senior transfer from Tennessee, finished 12 for 16 from the field. He scored 17 of his points in the second half, when the Titans (1-2) took control.

Fullerton led 34-30 at halftime, then used an extended 29-10 run to start the second half and build a 63-40 lead with 6:49 left. George Washington (1-3) responded with a 16-0 run to trim the Titans’ lead to seven with 3:13 left, but Fullerton gathered itself after an Anosike jumper and Tory San Antonio eventually put an end to the Colonials’ hopes with a one-handed dunk.

Dante Maddox Jr. had 11 points, five rebounds and three assists for Fullerton, while Damari Milstead added 10 points, Tray Maddox Jr. had nine points and five rebounds, and Vincent Lee had six points and 10 rebounds.

Fullerton, which shot 43.3% overall (26 for 60) had a 40-28 rebounding advantage and went 18 for 20 from the free-throw line.

James Bishop had 19 points to lead the Colonials (1-3), who shot 37.3% (22 for 59) overall and 7 for 25 (28%) from 3-point range. Noel Brown added 10 points, and Ricky Lindo Jr. had eight points and eight rebounds.

UP NEXT

The Titans hit the road again when they play Friday at 7 p.m. at San Diego (USD).

.@DedriqueTaylor and @EAnosike55 on tonight’s win over George Washington.#TusksUp pic.twitter.com/ecFeIo4cYE

— Titans Men’s Basketball (@FullertonMBB) November 17, 2021

Smooth operator @EAnosike55 #TusksUp pic.twitter.com/RJVUMmwzsb

— Titans Men’s Basketball (@FullertonMBB) November 17, 2021

.@EAnosike55 goin’ to work 💪#TusksUp pic.twitter.com/AQOE3cN5iO

— Titans Men’s Basketball (@FullertonMBB) November 17, 2021

That’s filthy @Dante21x. #TusksUp pic.twitter.com/UUxMDrOwHv

— Titans Men’s Basketball (@FullertonMBB) November 17, 2021

Put an exclamation point on it @Kidxtory 😤#TusksUp pic.twitter.com/HataQK28nM

— Titans Men’s Basketball (@FullertonMBB) November 17, 2021

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Balanced UC Irvine crushes La Verne in tune-up game

IRVINE — JC Butler had a career-high 18 points to lead five UC Irvine players in double figures as the Anteaters crushed La Verne, 100-41, on Tuesday night at the Bren Events Center.

The game was every bit the mismatch it was expected to be, as the perennial Big West Conference title contender had its way with its smaller NCAA Division III opponent.

UCI shot 66.7 percent overall (44 for 66) overall and outrebounded the Leopards, 40-23. UCI had an 80-18 advantage in paint points.

Justin Hohn had a career-high 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting for the Anteaters (2-1). Collin Welp chipped in 11 points and six rebounds, Emmanuel Tshimanga scored 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Bent Leuchten had 10 points. Isaiah Lee had six points and eight assists, and Ofure Ujadughele had a game-high seven rebounds and a career-best five assists.

Butler, who finished 9 for 13 from the field, scored six consecutive points to begin a 13-0 run that gave UCI a 33-11 lead less than 14 minutes into the first half. The Anteaters closed the half on a 15-2 run (seven from Hohn) to establish a 50-15 lead by the intermission.

A Butler layup started an 8-0 run that pushed the margin to 69-28 early in the second half, then three more Butler layups extended the lead to 91-37 with 5:53 left. Lee’s 3-pointer with 34 seconds remaining capped the scoring.

“We really used tonight to try to get better,” said UCI coach Russell Turner, whose team hosts Pepperdine in a nonconference game Saturday night. “We tried to get better with our offensive execution and in some ways, we accomplished that tonight and that is what we expected to see. I thought our defensive execution was pretty good.”

Twelve UCI players logged at least 11 minutes, and three of the starters played 15 minutes or less. UCI took just 10 shots from behind the arc.

“I got to see a lot of guys play tonight and a lot of different combinations,” Turner said. “We know we have talent on this team and a lot of guys got some important minutes.”

Isaiah Knox and John Malone II each had eight points for the Leopards (0-3), who shot 33.3 percent (17 for 51) overall and just 3 for 15 from 3-point range. La Verne went 4 for 14 from the free-throw line and had 21 turnovers.

UP NEXT

UCI hosts Pepperdine on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Bren Events Center.

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UC Irvine rides stingy defense past Boise State in home opener

IRVINE — Year after year, no matter the roster turnover, stingy defense remains the defining trait of the UC Irvine men’s basketball program. It has been that way since Coach Russell Turner arrived, and this season appears no different.

Collin Welp had 11 points, seven rebounds and a career-high six assists to pace a balanced offense, and the Anteaters used a solid defensive effort to turn back Boise State, 58-50, in their home opener on Saturday night at the Bren Events Center.

UCI held Boise to just 32.2% shooting (19 for 59) overall, including a 3-for-22 showing (13.6%) from 3-point range.

Dawson Baker had 10 points for UCI (1-1), while Austin Johnson added five points, eight rebounds and a career-high-tying five blocked shots. DJ Davis added nine points, going 3 for 4 from 3-point range.

The game was tight throughout. Boise went ahead, 37-36, on a Marcus Shaver Jr. jumper with nine minutes left, but UCI answered with an 8-0 run to take the lead for good. JC Butler and Dawson Baker accounted for the entire run, the highlight being Butler’s steal and layup for a three-point lead with 8:04 left.

Boise got within three points with six minutes left, but a Baker 3-pointer and a Butler jumper pushed the margin back to eight with 4:22 left, and UCI led by at least six points the rest of the way. Welp went 4 for 4 at the free-throw line down the stretch to help close out the win.

“I’m excited that we executed our game plan as well as we did, especially on the defensive end,” said Turner, now in his 12th season leading the Anteaters. “We got great contributions from everyone up and down our roster and we showed a lot of growth tonight.”

UCI shot 40.8% (20 for 49) overall and went 6 for 9 from behind the arc. The Anteaters went deeper into their bench than the Broncos did, and their reserves outscored Boise’s, 22-2.

Shaver had 14 points for the Broncos (1-1). Emmanuel Akot added 11 points and seven rebounds, and Devonaire Doutrive had six rebounds.

UP NEXT

UCI hosts La Verne on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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Whicker: UCLA’s OT victory over Villanova brings Pauley Pavilion back to life

LOS ANGELES — Even before COVID-19 slammed the doors of Pauley Pavilion 20 months ago, it was becoming the most ornate study hall on campus.

UCLA basketball? A night in Pauley promised quiet and plenty of elbow room, and reliable Internet service. According to Dad, they used to be good, but the Bruins hadn’t been to the Final Four since 2008.

Today’s typical freshman was 5 years old then. All he knew, growing up, was a loss to St. Bonaventure in the NCAA Tournament, home losses to Belmont and Liberty that were not made less painful by the fact that Belmont and Liberty were better teams, and a wasted conference season after Steve Alford was fired on Dec. 31, 2018.

That preceded a typically clumsy coaching search, in which UCLA went after reigning NCAA championship coach Tony Bennett of Virginia, got played by TCU’s Jamie Dixon and Tennessee’s Rick Barnes, and wound up bringing in Mick Cronin. He was known for steel-driving defensive teams at Cincinnati who squeezed basketballs into dust when it was time to make big baskets.

Cut to Friday night, for an 8:30 p.m. game in the middle of November, the type of game that normally wouldn’t get the typical Bruin out of the library. The line of kids stretched from the front of Pauley all the way to the top of the hill next to the tennis center. There was a DJ, and there was Cronin in the late afternoon delivering doughnuts, and there was Athletic Director Martin Jarmond as well. And when the doors opened and a top-five game began, there was desperation and passion in the air that hadn’t been heard or seen since Lonzo Ball’s drive-by season of 2016-17, and before that, who knows?

“The students bring the energy,” Cronin said later. “The traffic stops everyone else. But they can walk.”

The traffic will not be the usual disincentive this season. The Bruins got all of this started with last spring’s 11th-seeded run to the Final Four (which required surviving a First Four game). Here, they trailed Villanova, 60-50, with 9:24 left, and inexorably got it into overtime and then won, 86-77.

It was a profound illustration of why they’ve earned the hype, why they seem well-qualified for the moment. More will be known on Nov. 23 when UCLA plays top-ranked Gonzaga in Las Vegas, or when it goes on the road to play Marquette and then meets North Carolina in another neutral-site showdown in Las Vegas.

But maybe we know enough. The second-ranked Bruins had to adjust to the commando effort that every Villanova team brings, every game. They had to find third efforts to get rebounds when second efforts weren’t enough. After that 10-point deficit, they gave fourth-ranked Villanova three baskets the rest of regulation, and when Villanova’s Justin Moore found his way into the lane as he’d done for two hours, Jaylen Clark met him and persuaded him to miss.

That led to a 5-minute overtime that was a little too long for the Wildcats, four of whom played 38 or more minutes. Only one Bruin, Johnny Juzang, clocked in at 40 minutes. The depth is so real that the Bruins won without the injured Cody Riley, one of the best post playmakers in America.

David Singleton came off the bench to hit two 3-pointers in the first half and give UCLA some separation, and he was barely seen again. Myles Johnson, the transfer from Rutgers, got one basket in his 36 minutes and blocked two shots, but one of those blocks was on Moore when it was 69-69 in overtime, and Juzang came down to score and give UCLA the lead it would never lose.

“When you have a whole team coming back like this, it means a lot,” said point guard Tyger Campbell, who absorbed three charges in the second half and overtime and also hit two 3-pointers that cut that 10-point shortfall to four. “I trust them all, one through 13.”

“We can’t be the team that we want to be unless Tyger shoots the ball like that,” Cronin said, but, again, Campbell doesn’t have to be Pete Maravich. He hit five of nine shots and made one turnover in 33 minutes, while dealing with All-Big East point man Collin Gillespie on the other end. Campbell also had four assists, including a drive-and-kick to Juzang that made it 74-69.

Cronin traces the Bruins’ turnaround to defense, which began to improve just before COVID-19 hit in 2020 but took another large step in the run-up to the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Not since UCLA lost to Oregon State in the Pac-12 Tournament has it lost a game by conventional means, if you consider Jalen Suggs’ half-court shot a happenstance instead of grand strategy.

Even that Pac-12 loss was in overtime. The game before that, USC’s Tahj Eaddy beat the Bruins with a hope and a heave from the corner, in a game UCLA had controlled. So something was happening, even though you had to live deep in the Ostin Center to sense it.

“We have to be better defensively than we were tonight,” Cronin said. “Breakdowns are the things that kill you and we had some of those, and we learned how not to have them last year.

“But they also learned how to win last year and that’s what we talked about in the second half. We knew they had to get stops. But they believe in each other because they had so many games like this in the tournament. And they know I believe in them.”

The Bruins were so stout in the lane that Villanova missed 14 of 22 layups. Add a plus-14 in rebounding, and the people who run Pauley’s ticket booths had better not lose those “Sold Out Tonight” signs. Lord knows how long it took them to scrape off the mold.

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Cal State Fullerton loses to San Jose State on buzzer-beater

SAN JOSE — Cal State Fullerton erased a double-digit second-half deficit on the road Thursday night only to lose in frustrating fashion.

Trey Smith’s fadeaway jumper from 13 feet at the buzzer gave San Jose State a 78-76 season-opening victory over the Titans.

Smith caught Trey Anderson’s baseline miss when it ricocheted hard off the rim, turned and made the basket as time expired.

Down 70-58 with 7:53 left, Fullerton (0-2) went on an 18-6 run and tied the score at 76 on a three-point play by Latrell Wrightsell Jr. with 2:36 left. Neither team scored the rest of the way until Smith’s game-ending basket.

Wrightsell scored 17 points off the bench for the Titans, going 8 for 8 at the free-throw line. E.J. Anosike had 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting and six rebounds, Vincent Lee and Damari Milstead had 12 points each and Tray Maddox Jr. added 11 points and five assists. Dante Maddox Jr. had nine points off the bench.

Shon Robinson scored 14 points for the Spartans (1-0), Smith had 12 and Caleb Simmons added 11.

As they did in their season-opening loss at Santa Clara on Tuesday, Fullerton shot above 50%, going 27 for 51 and scoring 38 points in the paint. The Titans were outscored by 30 points from 3-point range, going just 4 for 12 from behind the arc while the Spartans were a blistering 14 for 28.

Fullerton made up some of that difference by going 18 for 21 from the free-throw line, while San Jose was 8 for 12.

The Titans trailed by 15 points in the first half and were still behind by nine at halftime.

UP NEXT

The Titans play their home opener against George Washington on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

GAME WINNER at the BUZZER by Trey Smith (@trey44smith) @ESPNAssignDesk#SCtop10 #SpartanUp pic.twitter.com/lP0G88mtIi

— San Jose State Men’s Basketball (@SanJoseStateMBB) November 12, 2021

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Cal State Fullerton drops season opener at Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA — The Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball team had plenty of offensive success in its season opener on Tuesday night, but the Titans could not stop Santa Clara often enough down the stretch and lost to the Broncos, 84-77, at the Leavey Center.

Vincent Lee had 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting and nine rebounds to lead a balanced effort for the Titans. Dante Maddox Jr. had 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting off the bench, E.J. Anosike had 16 points and 13 rebounds in his Fullerton debut and Tray Maddox Jr. contributed 11 points.

Josip Vrankic had 29 points on 13-for-20 shooting to pace Santa Clara, while Jalen Williams had 16 points (all in the second half), Keshawn Justice had 14 and PJ Pipes added 10.

The game was tight throughout, with Santa Clara maintaining a one-possession lead for much of the second half before Fullerton tied the score at 64-all on an Anosike jumper with 7:01 left.

Vrankic and Jalen Williams responded by scoring 12 of the Broncos’ next 16 points to open a seven-point lead with 1:38 left. Santa Clara made four of its last five free throws in the final minute to maintain that cushion.

Fullerton shot 52.5% overall (31 for 59) on a night when both teams did a considerable amount of their work in the paint. The Titans had a 34-24 rebounding advantage, but they shot just 2 for 12 from 3-point range.

Santa Clara shot 56.7% overall (34 for 60), including 61 percent in the second half. The Broncos had more success from behind the arc, going 5 for 15, and they also took better care of the ball, with 24 assists and just eight turnovers compared to 11 assists and 16 turnovers for the Titans.

Eight Titans played 12 minutes or more.

UP NEXT

The Titans look to bounce back Thursday at 7 p.m. at San Jose State.

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UC Irvine loses season opener at New Mexico State

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The UC Irvine men’s basketball team is intent on returning to the top of the Big West Conference standings this season, confident that the experience its young roster gained last season will translate to growth and cohesion.

The Anteaters tested themselves right out of the gate on Tuesday night, but they dropped their season opener to New Mexico State, 62-51, in a rock fight of a nonconference game between traditionally stingy defensive teams.

Collin Welp had 13 points and five rebounds, and Dawson Baker added 11 points to lead UCI, which trailed 55-51 with 2:21 left before the Aggies closed the game on a 7-0 run. DJ Davis had nine points, and Justin Hohn added six points and seven rebounds for UCI.

Teddy Allen had 14 points to lead five New Mexico State players in double figures. Jabari Rice and Mario McKinney Jr. had 12 points apiece, and Donnie Tillman and Will McNair Jr. each added 10 points.

One of just two Division I teams prevented from playing any home games in 2020-21 due to in-state COVID-19 restrictions, the Aggies gave a raucous crowd of 5,056 plenty to cheer about in their first game in the Pan American Center since March 5, 2020 (614 days).

The Anteaters trailed by 10 points in the first half, and they could never quite reel in the Aggies after halftime. UCI got within two early in the second half, but the hosts pushed their lead back to nine points.

UCI used an 8-2 run to get within 51-48 with 6:20 left, and a Davis jumper with 2:21 left trimmed the deficit to 55-51. Allen made a floater in the lane followed by a corner 3-pointer with 1:32 left to push the margin back to nine points. UCI missed its last three shots and Rice made two free throws with 30 seconds left to cap the scoring.

Neither team shot particularly well, which wasn’t unexpected the way both coaches and programs pride themselves on defense. UCI shot 30.6% (19 for 62) overall and 4 for 21 from 3-point range. New Mexico State shot 37.7% overall (20 for 53) and 7 for 23 from behind the arc.

The Aggies focused their defensive effort on Welp and harassed the All-Big West performer into a 5-for-14 shooting night. Baker was 4 for 14 and Davis was 4 for 13.

“We just didn’t make good enough plays to win this game,” UCI coach Russell Turner said. “That disappoints me, because I think we are a team good enough to win this type of game. I give New Mexico State credit defensively, they came at us and I knew they would. We rebounded well, but I think at times we were tentative on offense and at times selfish on offense.”

Twelve Anteaters played, with 10 of them logging at least 11:55 of court time.

UP NEXT

UCI hosts Boise State in its home opener on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Bren Events Center.

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