Collin Welp saved his best game of the season for a big moment.
Welp, a 6-9 redshirt freshman from Seattle Prep High School, scored a career-high 23 points Saturday night to lead UC Irvine to a 92-64 victory over Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Tournament championship game. With the win the Anteaters earned an automatic bid into the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Welp, who is is averaging 8.9 points and 4.4 rebounds for the Anteaters (30-5), was 9-for-12 from the field and 3-for-3 from the free throw line. His previous career high came on March 7 when he scored 19 points in a win over Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
The NCAA Tournament field was announced on Sunday, and UC Irvine received the No. 13 seed in the South Region. They will face No. 4 Kansas State in the first round on Friday in San Jose, California.
Welp averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds as a senior at Seattle Prep in 2016-17. He led the Panthers to the quarterfinals of the 2017 3A state tournament.
Welp’s father is former University of Washington star Christian Welp. Christian Welp died of heart failure in March 2015 at the age of 51.