UC Irvine defeats UC Riverside to win the Big West title game

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Dawson Baker and Collin Welp scored 17 points each, DJ Davis 14 and UC Irvine …

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Dawson Baker and Collin Welp each scored 17 points, DJ Davis 14 and UC Irvine scored Friday night in the semifinals of the Big West Conference tournament against UC Riverside 78-61.

The second-cast anteaters (18-8) compete in the championship game on Saturday against the best-occupied UC Santa Barbara.

Welp was only 3 of 14 off the field but added 11 of 13 from the free throw line. UC Irvine was 26 of 30 on the line – 16 of 19 after halftime. Almost half of Irvine’s points in the second half came off the line.

A Davis jumper brought the anteaters to 62-46 with 8:41 – which is the biggest lead of the game with 16 points.

Riverside (14-8), who held his highest seed in the tournament to date at three o’clock, rallied with a 12-5 run over the next five minutes, reducing the lead to nine. But Baker and Isaiah Lee scored two goals in a row, pushing Irvine’s lead back to 14. The anteaters finished him off with free throws.

Arinze Chidom scored 16 points with four 3-pointers for Riverside and Jock Perry also scored 16.

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