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UC Irvine rides stingy defense past UC Riverside, into Big West tourney semifinals Daily News

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Mar 15, 2019 12:27 AM 1+ week ago

ANAHEIM -- Some teams play tough defense because it's a necessity. UC Irvine plays defense because it loves the sound of breaking an opponent's heart.

That has been the Anteaters' style since Russell Turner became head coach, and that was the style they used to escort UC Riverside out of the Big West Tournament with a 63-44 quarterfinal win on Thursday night at Honda Center.

The Anteaters held the Highlanders to 31 percent shooting while shutting out their guards, Dikymbe Martin and DJ McDonald. They were a combined 0 for 13 from the field and neither got to the foul line.

UCI outscored the Highlanders 14-3 over the final seven minutes of the first half and 17-5 in the first nine minutes of the second, extending its lead to as much as 25 points. The Anteaters return Friday for a 6:30 p.m. semifinal against fifth-seeded rival Long Beach State, which edged No. 4 seed Hawaii in Thursday's late quarterfinal.

"It wasn't pretty, but I'm proud ...

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