Nov. 23, 2013

Highlanders 74 – Thunderbirds 59

After winning their first game of the season, the UC Riverside men’s basketball team hit the road to face Southern Utah on Saturday, Nov. 23. Evening out the season at 2-2, the Highlanders secured their first road win, 74-59, behind a season-high 21 points from Chris Patton.

Patton dominated inside the paint leading the team to victory with a double-double (21 points, 15 rebounds). Steven Thornton was close behind with a career-high of 20 points and four rebounds. Taylor Johns added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Thunderbird Trey Kennedy led Southern Utah with 15 points.

Before the game even began, the Highlanders received a technical foul for dunking during the pregame warm-ups. The Thunderbirds took the lead as Kennedy scored one of two free throws. The Highlanders were unable to put any points on the scoreboard until Patton was fouled at the 18:18 mark. They continued to struggle as they missed several shots, but they were able to force five Thunderbirds turnovers.

With 15:16 to go, Johns made both free throws, making it a one-point game. With 7:42 in the half remaining, Thornton made a three-point jumper and Sam Finely converted on a free throw to push the Highlanders advantage to 24-22. Thunderbird A.J. Hess tied up the game 24-24 as he made both of his free throws at the 6:35 mark. As the half continued, both teams traded baskets, yet the Highlanders continued to stay on top. Patton with his improved left hand scored the final bucket to end the first half with a three-point lead, 36-33. With 14 points and six rebounds, Patton played his best first half of the season.

Starting the second half, UCR kept up the momentum by increasing the lead to double digits. At the 16:21 mark, the Highlanders took a 14-point lead and never looked back. With 10:53 to go, the visiting team took a 21-point lead after Thornton scored his layup. The Thunderbirds were unable to get closer than 14 points for the rest of the evening. With 21 seconds remaining, Thunderbird John Marshall made the last free throw of the game. The contest came to an end as the Highlanders held on for a 74-59 win.

UC Riverside outscored Southern Utah 40-22 in the paint due in large part to Patton’s inside post game while out-rebounding the opponents 36-33. The Highlanders next play on Nov. 25 in Seattle, Wash.