This is the point early in the college basketball season when teams are trying to establish an identity. That doesn’t change, even if a Division I team is playing one in a lower division.
Such was the case Tuesday when UC Irvine hosted Chapman, a Division III school out of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Logic indicated the Anteaters would roll to an easy victory, and they did, defeating the Panthers 91-52 before 1,242 at Bren Events Center. UCI (2-1) led 48-22 at halftime.
Tommy Rutherford led UCI with 19 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. Brad Greene scored 15 points and Jonathan Galloway scored 11, with Greene blocking five shots and Galloway four as the three big men combined for 12 blocks.
Galloway led the way on the boards with 14 rebounds, Greene had 10.
Small forward John Edgar Jr. contributed 12 points and six rebounds to the UCI cause.
The Panthers (0-1) got 11 points from Rob Nelson and Reed Smith, Reed Nakakihara, Sean Comer and Daniel McCown scored six apiece.
Rutherford, a sophomore, liked the play of the bigs.
“We played very dominant tonight,” he said. “Brad, man, I’m proud of that guy. He got out there and finally got his double-double that he deserves. Gallo, another double-double. That’s just effort and heart there when we have big guys that want to do that every night.”
UCI coach Russ Turner was equally pleased with the play of his frontcourt.
“These big guys that I’ve got as a group make each other better and they play with a fury, they play hard,” he said. “There is no real substitute in the game for guys who are willing to do that over and over again.
“And tonight they did that. And they didn’t just play hard, they played well.”
UCI outrebounded Chapman 52-29.
Now things get substantially tougher for the Anteaters, who Friday play at Kansas State and Sunday play at Arizona State. Rutherford can’t wait.
“Coach always emphasizes that the next game is the most important…