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Freedom Bowl Tournament : UC Irvine Defeats Manhattan to Win Championship, 86-83

November 29, 1987|JOHN WEYLER | Times Staff Writer

If points were awarded on the basis of distance the ball traveled before going through the basket, UC Irvine would have won the Freedom Bowl basketball tournament championship by a couple of hundred points Saturday night at the Bren Center.

As it was, Irvine had to hold off a Manhattan College rally in the final minutes for an 86-83 victory before a crowd of 1,787.

Manhattan obviously saw Friday night's Irvine-Army game and the Cadets' baseline layup parade. Manhattan's shot chart looked as if somebody had dropped a cluster bomb on top of the basket. The Jaspers did not score a field goal from beyond five feet until guard Billy Wheeler, who led his team with 29 points, hit a 16-foot jumper with 2:38 left in the half. The Jaspers had 10 first-half layups.

The Anteaters' man-to-man pressure did cause 12 first-half turnovers, however, and the Jaspers shot just 43% from the field before the intermission.

"We had more trouble with our offense than our defense tonight," Irvine Coach Bill Mulligan said. "We made some terrible offensive decisions down the stretch."

Irvine was led by senior center Wayne Englestad, who had 27 points; sophomore Mike Labat, who scored 15, and freshman Jeff Herdman, who played an outstanding second half and finished with 12 points.

Todd Mattson hit a 10-foot jumper with 5:53 left to break a 63-63 tie, as Army, led by Ron Wilson with 20 points, went on to beat Air Force, 79-70, for third place.

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