Irvine's DJ Kim passes the ball away while under pressure from Northwood's Zach Pierce (24) and Jake Ludwick during Friday's game.
See more photos from this game in the OCVarsity Hot Shots slideshow.

Northwood puts defensive clamps on Irvine


IRVINE – Northwood takes pride in solid team defense, which has helped the Timberwolves move to the top of the Pacific Coast League basketball standings.

Friday night, the Timberwolves displayed their best defensive effort of the season, beating Irvine, 40-28, at Irvine to remain atop the league.

"For the first half, that's as good a team defense as I have seen as a coach in a long time," Northwood coach Tim O'Brien said. "It was just solid."

The victory gave Northwood (17-5, 6-0) a season sweep over Irvine. The Timberwolves defeated the Vaqueros, 56-41, on Jan. 11 at Northwood.


SLIDESHOW: OCVarsity Hot Shots: Friday's basketball games


"We gave them too many easy shots the first time we played them off our press so we didn't press," O'Brien said.

"We just said, 'Let's go toe to toe with them and see if they can't make shots.'"

Northwood held Irvine (13-11, 3-3) to seven points in the first half while taking a commanding 26-7 lead.

Kevin Norman and Zach Pierce each had 14 points for Northwood.

Norman had several steals that he turned into layups, and Pierce was a dominating force with 18 rebounds and a strong defensive effort from start to finish.

"The whole emphasis was just to stop them," Pierce said.

"We let them get off to too hot of a start last time, so we really had to stop them in the first half. Luckily, that helped us in the second half when we didn't score too much."

Cole Murray added nine points for Northwood.

Ryan Soltes scored seven points to lead Irvine, which had a three-game league winning streak snapped.

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