By Barry Faulkner
10:13 PM PST, December 4, 2012
IRVINE — Students who attended the UC Irvine nonconference men's basketball home game Tuesday against NAIA representative San Diego Christian were presented with one complimentary Scantron answer sheet.
The idea, presumably was that for the student rooters, just as for the Anteaters on the floor, a test would loom sometime in their future.
UCI (4-5) played as if it were an open-book exercise in dominating the Hawks, 94-52, to snap a four-game losing streak and improve to 3-0 at home.
UCI parlayed 56 points in the paint into shooting 56.9% from the field and earned a 53-36 rebounding advantage over the Hawks, for whom the game did not count on their record.
San Diego Christian, in an attempt to pad the program's coffers, is playing nine road exhibition contests against NCAA Division I programs this season, including five against Big West Conference schools. With Tuesday's loss – yet financial gain – the Hawks have dropped their first six exhibitions by an average deficit of 32.3 points. The Hawks are 3-3 in non-exhibition games with exhibition dates forthcoming against Fresno State, UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge.
"They are doing a tough thing, trying to raise money to grow their program," UCI Coach Russell Turner said of the visitors, who missed nine of their first 10 field-goal tries and were never in it. "They are in a tough stretch and I think that showed a little bit for them, just like it probably showed for us against UNLV in the second half."
UCI, for which Tuesday's game counted, was drubbed, 85-57, by the No. 24-ranked Runnin' Rebels in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
The toughest challenge for the Anteaters on Tuesday may have been not losing interest.
"That's a good game for us to have, having dropped the last four, to come in and play a team that we should be able to beat and come out and beat them like we did," Turner said. "I liked my team's energy tonight in the second half. We were good, the way we should be."
UCI converted 17 of 28 field-goal attempts after halftime (60.7%) and produced 15 of their 26 assists after seizing a 49-22 advantage at intermission.
Senior post Adam Folker made seven of eight field-goal tries, all layups, to finish with a team-best 14 points for the winners. Sophomore Mike Best (five for eight from the field for 10 points), junior reserve Chris McNealy (five for 10 for 10 points) and sophomore reserve Travis Souza (three for four for 10 points) rounded out the hosts' double-figure scorers.
Sophomore Will Davis came off the bench to add nine rebounds, six points and five blocked shots, while senior Mike Wilder had five points, seven rebounds and five assists for UCI.
UCI blocked 12 shots to limit the Hawks to 29.9% shooting from the field.
UCI, however, missed 16 of 31 free-throw attempts to finish 48.4% from the line and drop its season free-throw proficiency to 61%.
Folker was zero for five from the foul line and is now six for 27 for the season (22.2%).
"I was pleased with the performances we got from a number of players," said Turner, for whom all 13 available players scored. "I was especially pleased with the way we took the ball to the hole tonight and finished a lot of shots around the rim."
UCI's bench produced a combined 53 points.
Two of UCI's wins have come outside the NCAA Division I ranks with another at the expense of 1-8 Liberty.
The 'Eaters visit Weber State and Fresno State the next two Saturdays, before returning home to face LSU on Dec. 18.
"We're figuring things out, as we have to do this time of the year," Turner said. "We're going to continue to get better. I'm confident in that."
UC Irvine 94, San Diego Christian 52
SDC – Saharan 10, Dawson 7, Rodriguez 4, Garcia 1, Brandon 0, Elwood 9, Dickerson 8, Beale-Wirsing 5, Thompson 4, Simmons 2, McBride 2.
3-pt. goals – Saharan 3, Dickerson 2, Beale-Wirsing 1, Dawson 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
UCI – Best 10, Folker 14, Starring 6, Young 6, Wilder 5, McNealy 11, Souza 10, Flowers 9, Davis 6, Ryan 6, Clifford 5, Wright 4, McConnell 2.
3-pt. goals – Souza 2, Starring 1, Flowers 1, Wright 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
Halftime – UCI, 49-22.