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Big West weekly review-preview

It was only two weeks ago that it appeared as if four or five teams had a legitimate shot at winning the Big West Conference regular-season championship. Now, with three weeks still remaining in the regular season, UC Irvine has established a commanding lead in the standings.

The Anteaters scored key road wins at UC Riverside and Hawai’i last week to improve to 9-2 in the conference. UC Davis and CSUN are tied for second place at 6-5.

UCI has a magic number of three to clinch its second consecutive Big West regular-season title. The Anteaters host Long Beach State on Wednesday, then travel to CSUN on Saturday.

Here is a look back at last week, and a look ahead to this week.

UC Davis makes a move up

Despite UC Irvine’s separation atop the standings, the Aggies are now the hottest team in the conference. UCD is on a three-game winning streak, including crucial home victories last week over fellow contenders UC Santa Barbara and CSUN.

The Aggies set a school record for most points in a game during their 110-98 win over CSUN. UCD is now 6-5 in Big West games, and tied for second place in the conference.

Hawai’i falls at home

The Rainbow Warriors went 4-0 at home in Honolulu after the first half of the conference season. That changed in a hurry last week, when Hawai’i lost home games to Long Beach State and UC Irvine.

The Warriors have now lost four games in a row, and dropped from second place to a tie for fourth during that span. UC Irvine (5-0) is now the only undefeated team at home in conference play.

Carter III is clutch for the Beach

Long Beach State won two games in the closing seconds last week, and sophomore guard Michael Carter III provided the winning points both times.

In a 50-49 win at Hawai’i, Carter hit a fadeaway jumper with less than a minute remaining to tie the score, then he hit one of two free throws with 3.0 seconds remaining to win it.

Three days later, in a 65-63 overtime win against UC Riverside, Carter hit an 18-foot jumper with 2.0 seconds remaining in OT to score the game winner.

Player of the Week

UC Davis freshman guard Ezra Manjon was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week on Monday after leading the Aggies to two home wins last week.

He averaged 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game and shot 13 for 13 on free throws in the two games.

It is the second time this season that Manjon has received the Big West Player of the Week honor. He is the first true freshman in 46 years to earn multiple Player of the Week awards in one season. Clifton Pondexter of Long Beach State accomplished the feat on Feb. 11 and 18 of the 1973-74 season.
CSUN’s Lamine Diane won it three times last season as a redshirt freshman.

Best game of last week

Cal State Fullerton 105, Cal Poly 101 (4 OT). The Titans out-lasted the Mustangs in a game that featured a combined 64 fouls and 89 free throw attempts. Seven players were on the court for 50 or more minutes, including four for Fullerton. Jackson Rowe played a game-high 57 minutes, and finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds.

It is the second time this season that the teams have played a high-scoring thriller. Cal Poly won the first meeting, 101-100, in overtime.

• Game to watch this week

Long Beach State at UC Irvine, Wednesday. The 49ers pulled off the upset of the season so far when the teams last met on January 22. Long Beach won that game, 63-56, but have been up and down since.

If the 49ers can pull off another upset this week, it will give hope to the other teams still in contention for the regular-season title. On the other hand, if the Anteaters can avenge the loss at Long Beach, they will build an almost insurmountable lead atop the standings.

This week’s games
Wednesday

Long Beach State at UC Irvine

Thursday
UC Santa Barbara at Cal State Fullerton
UC Davis at Cal Poly
Hawai’i at UC Riverside

Saturday
Hawai’i at Long Beach State
UC Davis at UC Santa Barbara
UC Riverside at Cal Poly
UC Irvine at CSUN



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