- National Teams
Whether he is in the US or in the UK, one thing always stays the same for Luke Nelson; he wins.
Nelson helped UC Irvine capture their first Big West Conference regular-season title in 12 seasons on Saturday, defeating UC Davis, 74-46, to capture the Big West title outright and win the third regular season championship in program history.
Nelson, who is leading the team in scoring at 11.8ppg on 41.6% shooting this season, finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 block on 3/5 shooting.
“I’m happy for these guys, especially Chris McNealy,” fourth-year UCI head coach Russell Turner said. “It’s not easy to win a conference championship in college basketball and it has been fun to part of that. You hope you can do it and it is satisfying in working with guys and reaching a goal.”
However, there is a tougher task ahead; getting the Anteaters to their first NCAA Tournament appearance. The Anteaters are finishing up only their 7th 20-win season of all time (6th as a Division I school), and are yet to make a trip to the Big Dance.
“The challenge before us in the coming week is a greater challenge,” said Turner, whose top-seeded squad (22-10, 10-3 in conference), ranked No. 14 in the CollegeInsider.com mid-major poll, will face No. 8-seeded UC Riverside in the conference tournament quarterfinal on Thursday at 6 p.m, to Daily Pilot.com.
“If we accomplish that challenge [by winning three games in three days] it will be even better. If we don’t, it will be a huge disappointment. It’s one of the things you learn in high-level athletic competition; you have to be willing to go for it. And, tonight, we went for it … Our goals are certainly greater than what we’ve accomplished. And the more we accomplish, the greater our goals will become.”
The ‘Eaters have won nine of their last 10 games, and 15 of their past 18 heading into the Big West Tournament. UCI is 26-5 in its last 31 games in the Bren Center.
Image Credit: UC Irvine