NCAA Basketball

UC Irvine defeats UC Riverside, gains Big West title game

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

The second-seeded Anteaters (18-8) will take on top-seeded UC Santa Barbara in Saturday's championship game.

Welp was just 3-of-14 from the field but added 11 of 13 from the free-throw line. UC Irvine was 26 of 30 at the line - 16 of 19 after halftime. Nearly half of Irvine's second-half points came from the line.

A Davis jumper put the Anteaters up 62-46 with 8:41 remaining - matching their largest lead of the game at 16 points.

Riverside (14-8), holding its highest-ever seed into the tourney at three, rallied with an 12-5 run over the next five minutes and cut the lead down to nine. But Baker and Isaiah Lee scored back-to-back, pushing Irvine's advantage back to 14 and the Anteaters closed it out with free throws.

Arinze Chidom scored16 points with four 3-pointers for Riverside and Jock Perry also scored 16.

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Updated March 13, 2021

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