ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — UC Irvine coach Russell Turner told his team throughout the week that he didn’t want to leave any doubt that they were the best team in the Big West Conference this season.
On Saturday night, the Anteaters showed that and then some as they dominated Cal State Fullerton 92-64 in the tournament final. The 28-point margin is the largest in a Big West title game.
“We wanted to make a statement with our performance,” Turner said. “I’ll say I’m not surprised with the outcome. You don’t expect to come in shooting 60 percent, but I thought it was possible. We had a mature team expecting a great performance.”
The Anteaters (30-5) are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history. Their previous trip was in 2015.
Max Hazzard and Collin Welp led UC Irvine with 23 points apiece as it made 61.8 percent of its shots from the field.
Hazzard made five of UC Irvine’s 10 3-pointers as it led for almost the entire game and was up by 32 midway through the second half. Welp, a redshirt freshman, came off the bench and set a career high in points.
“I have a lot of…