In a thrill ride contested at well under the speed limit, UC Irvine edged host Hawaii 60-56 in a battle of Big West Conference men’s basketball contenders Thursday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Anteaters avenged a 90-86 loss (also in overtime) to UH at Irvine on Jan. 25.
This time, the game was much slower paced, to the liking of Irvine which features 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye, who finished with 11 points.
First-place UC Irvine improved to 9-2 in the Big West and 18-9 overall. Hawaii fell to 7-5 and 18-8 and to fourth place in the conference.
A crowd of about 6,000 attended on Wig Night.
Luke Nelson led the Anteaters with 12 points.
Christian Standhardinger led UH with 12 and Isaac Fotu scored 11.
Irvine scored the first six points of overtime — including two free throws by Ndiaye, who entered as a 38.5 percent shooter from the line — and held on for the win.
Hawaii took a 26-25 lead into halftime, as Ndiaye played just seven of the first 20 minutes, posting no points and one rebound.
Standhardinger scored 10 first-half points, and drew the second foul on Ndiaye on a transition drive to the basket, sending the freshman to the bench to stay with 8:06 to go before the break.
The Rainbow Warriors struggled with the Anteaters zone defense, making just 6 of 22 shots from the floor for their worst shooting percentage of the season for a half. But they made 13 of 15 free throws in the first half.
Ndiaye finally scored with a powerful dunk early in the second half to tie the game at 29. But he was quickly tagged with his third foul with 17:58 left, and UH went on a 9-2 run, including scores off the offensive glass by Brandon Spearman and Fotu.
But Irvine came back. Two dunks by Ndiaye helped the Anteaters close to 47-45, and then Irvine took its first lead of the second half, 50-49, on a basket by Will Davis.
Spearman hit a floater in the lane to put UH back up, 51-50. Ndiaye hit one of two from the line to tie it at 51 with 2:40 left.
Hawaii hosts UC Davis on Saturday.