UC Irvine snaps 29-year NCAA drought with Big West title

HENDERSON, Nev. -- Deja Lee scored 21 points, Moulayna Johnson Sidi Baba added 13 points and nine rebounds, and UC Irvine defeated UC Davis 53-39 on Saturday to win the Big West Conference Tournament.

The Anteaters (23-8) advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995, their only previous appearance.

Evanne Turner scored 18 points -- nearly half of her team's total -- for UC Davis (20-14).

Diaba Konate had 10 points for UC Irvine.

The Anteaters dominated the third quarter, their 23-4 advantage extending a two-point halftime lead to 45-23 entering the fourth. Lee scored 12 points in the third on 4-for-4 shooting, including two 3-pointers.

Johnson Sidi Baba, who sank of 11 of 12 from the line, made 5 of 6 free throws in a 1-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, giving UC Irvine a 53-29 lead with 3:41 remaining. Turner scored the next eight points for UC Davis and the Aggies scored the last 10 points of the game.

Johnson Sidi Baba scored six points and UC Irvine raced out to a 12-2 lead in the first five minutes, but the Anteaters scored only nine points the rest of the half and led 21-19 at the break.

UC Irvine is on a season-long six-game win streak. All six of those victories have come by a double-digit margin.