UC Irvine Pulls Away in Second Half, Downs Men’s Basketball

UC Irvine Pulls Away in Second Half, Downs Men’s Basketball

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Collin Welp came off the bench to post a game-high 12 points and UC Irvine used a big second-half run to overcome a deficit and pull away for a 61-49 win against Santa Clara men's basketball on Thursday night.

Neither team shot well from the field, but the Anteaters out-rebounded the Broncos (44-34) and scored 32 points in the paint.

UC Irvine (4-0) held the Broncos (0-2) to 26 percent shooting from the floor in the second half and 30 percent overall while connecting at a 46-percent clip in the final 20 minutes. 

Welp, a 6-foot-9 freshman, went 5 of 11 from the floor and contributed three assists and three steals. Guards Eyassu Worku and Max Hazzard each added 11 points for UC Irvine, which has won seven straight on the road, dating to last season.  

The Broncos led 32-27, but Welp helped key a 9-0 run, that was part of 19-3 flurry, with a pair of layups.

The lead grew to 57-43 on a 3-pointer from Worku. A dunk by Zeke Richards pulled the Broncos within eight, but there was only 1:26 left in the game.

The Broncos led 26-24 at the half with neither team able to heat up. Santa Clara shot 33 percent (9-for-27) and the Anteaters were held to under 30 percent (8-for-27).  The Bronco trio of KJ Feagin, Tahj Eaddy and Guglielmo Caruso combined for seven field goals with the rest of the team shooting just 2 of 15.  
Santa Clara got a spark from Caruso, a freshman from Naples, Italy, who came off the bench to chip in 10 points, including seven in the first half. He also blocked a layup attempt by Worku with 2 seconds left to help the Broncos maintain its slim lead. 

Feagin, the team's leading scorer a year ago, was harassed by the UC Irvine defense throughout the game. He scored just six points on 2-for-6 shooting after starting the game with a pair of 3-pointers.

Freshman Keshawn Justice who had 15 points in last week's season opener against Prairie View A&M, once again paced the scoring for the Broncos. He and Eaddy had 11 points apiece. Justice went 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point line.    
• The Broncos rolled out the same starting lineup of KJ Feagin, Josip Vrankic, Tahj Eaddy, Josh Martin and Fallou Ndoye as the season opener.   
The Broncos head to Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) to face Washington of the Pac-12 Conference in the Vancouver Showcase on Sunday.  Tipoff at 5 p.m. PT.  

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