Feb. 4—Some days you're the Anteaters, some days you're the ants.
The Anteaters amassed 62 paint points, hit 21 of 23 free throws, and scored 20 on fast breaks. The 'Bows did not have any fast break points.
"It was a complete lack of focus," UH coach Eran Ganot told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in a telephone interview. "We didn't run back in transition. We didn't block out. We didn't guard a couple of their plays well or right, and they exposed us for it."
In winning their fourth in a row, the Anteaters improved to 17-6 overall and 10-1 in the Big West to seize sole possession of first place. The 'Bows fell to 12-11 and 4-7.
UCI center Bent Leuchten set the tone when he won the opening tip for the first time this season, then raced down to score on a lay-in. Leuchten scored eight of the Anteaters' first 13 points. The Anteaters widened their lead to 17-8, 26-11 and, with 2:28 remaining in the half, 39-22.
"You can't this time, any time, come out of the gates the way we did, Ganot said.
The Anteaters received balanced scoring and passing. Point guard Pierre Crockrell II, who scored 12 and had seven assists, extended a play with a behind-the-back pass while falling out of bounds. Crockrell also sank his first 3 of the season when the 'Bows tried to chip into a 25-point deficit in the second half. Power forward Devin Tellis had a no-look pass to center Dean Keeler for yet another paint basket. Leuchten finished with 15 points, backup center Carter Welling added 14, and freshman Derij Saran came off the bench for 12 points.
Center Bernardo da Silva led the 'Bows with 19 points and eight rebounds despite picking up his third foul with 7:51 left in the first half.
"In this game, we had to navigate foul trouble," said Ganot, whose 'Bows were without 7-foot-1 center Mor Seck for the third game in a row. Last week, Seck suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
"We're down a guy, and we compounded it." Ganot said. "Sometimes you get fouls and you play right. (Da Silva will) tell you, those were undisciplined, silly fouls. He came out of the game, and it was a big story line in the first half."
With Harry Rouhliadeff being assessed two fouls in the first half and struggling against a wave of post defenders, the 'Bows moved power forward Justin McKoy to the five for a stretch. Forward Akira Jacobs also dropped into the low post in UH's version of a cover-2 defense.
"We weren't good defensively all night," Ganot said. "Disappointed. We were very soft. They took it to us at every point of attack, all five spots. Whether it was in the post, on the offensive boards, driving on us on the perimeter to their tendencies. Give them credit. It was something we don't do too much defensively. That was really disappointing."
The 'Bows also committed 20 fouls, and the Anteaters were in the bonus with 13:12 to play. The Anteaters converted 91.3% of their 23 free throws. In the first four minutes of the second half, they completed three three-point plays.
UH guard Noel Coleman was held scoreless for the second time in two meetings against UCI this year. Coleman shot 0-for-5 in 24 minutes. UH's three starting guards did not score until Juan Munoz's 3-point shot with 13:54 to play.
"Back to work we go," Ganot said. "We have to travel back and have a good week of practice."