UC Irvine 55, UC Santa Barbara 50
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Darren Fells had 14 points and nine rebounds to help UC Irvine upset top-seeded UC Santa Barbara 55-50 Friday in the semifinals of the Big West Conference tournament.
Big West first team selection Patrick Sanders was held to just four points, but had ten rebounds and made two free throws with three seconds left for fifth-seeded Irvine.
Fifth-seeded Irvine (18-15) earned its third trip ever to the finals of the tournament and first since 1994.
The Anteaters will continue their quest to receive the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament while Santa Barbara (23-8) will now continue its season in the post-season NIT.
UC Irvine guard Patrick Rembert made five free throws in the final two minutes and finished with 12 points to help keep the Anteaters ahead for good.
Santa Barbara guard James Powell made a 3-pointer with 28 seconds remaining to cut Irvine’s lead to 52-50, but pulled no closer.
Santa Barbara guard Alex Harris, a co-Big West player of the year, made seven free throws for seven of the team’s final points and finished with a game-high 17.
After Rembert made a one of two free throws putting Irvine up 53-50, Harris missed a jumper with about seven seconds remaining and Sanders was fouled setting up his free throws with three seconds on the clock.
On Santa Barbara’s last possession, Harris missed another long jumper before the buzzer sounded.
The Anteaters out-rebounded the Gauchos 38-26 and held them to 23.5 percent shooting from 3-point range. Santa Barbara’s second-leading scorer, Chris Devine finished with eight points and 11 rebounds after fouling out with 6:49 left in the game.