Titans 78 — Highlanders 73
After sitting out the previous two games, the Big Australian Chris Patton returned as the Highlanders began Big West Conference play Thursday evening against Cal State Fullerton. Defending their home court, Fullerton took care of business as they topped UCR 78-73.
Titan Michael Williams scored the first points of the night at the 18:35 mark. With 5:11 gone in the game, a Patton free throw gave the Highlanders an early lead, 11-9. But it wasn’t long until the Titans recovered the lead, going on a 12-0 run over the next six minutes to push the score to 21-11. As both teams continued to exchange buckets, the half closed with an 8-0 run from Riverside, cutting the Titans’ lead to 36-29.
Determined to keep the game in their hands, Fullerton came in strong as the second half began. Marquis Horne’s three-pointer at the 18:57 mark increased the Titan lead to 10 points early in the period.
Trying to claw their way back into the game, Riverside continued to push forward as Steven Thornton and Sam Finley scored layups and free throws. With two minutes remaining, the Highlanders reduced the Titans’ lead to two points as 32 seconds remained. Highlander Taylor Johns scored the last three-pointer of the night, but it wasn’t enough as Riverside fell short once again, 73-78.
Johns led Riverside with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Thornton added 14 shots, while Finley tallied 13 points. Williams led the Titans with 21 points.
Anteaters 72 – Highlanders 52
After the loss to Fullerton, the UCR men’s basketball team returned home for a match against the UC Irvine Anteaters, their first home game in conference play. However, the Highlanders would once again end up in the loss column as the Anteaters took the victory, 72-52.
The game began with Riverside winning the tipoff, but were unable to translate that to points on the scoreboard. Anteater Chris McNealy connected on a three-pointer for the game’s first points, putting Irvine on top at the 18:24 mark, 0-3. Irvine’s offense was on point as they prevented the Highlanders from scoring within the first three minutes. As the match progressed, Chris Harriel put the Highlanders on top at the 11:32 mark, 9-8. But it didn’t take long for Irvine to recover the lead. Every point made by the Highlanders was answered with a basket from Irvine. Connecting three-pointers and recovering the ball offensively, the half came to an end with the Anteaters on top, 35-23.
The beginning of the second half appeared to unfold in the Highlanders’ favor as they cut Irvine’s lead to 11 at the 14:16 mark, but they would get no closer than that. The Anteaters put on a clinic, as they kept pushing forward on their way to a 20-point victory.
Chris Patton led the Highlanders as he scored 14 points. Once again Finley scored in the double digits, contributing 13 points. Taylor Johns also added 10 points. Luke Nelson led the Anteaters with 14 points.
The Highlanders will now regroup and prepare to face UC Davis on Jan. 16 at 7 p.m.