Taylor Johns’ massive dunk rockets UCR to historic victory

Cameron Yong/HIGHLANDER
Cameron Yong/HIGHLANDER

Jan. 16, 2013

Highlanders 81 – Aggies 69

Keeping their heads held high, the men’s basketball team came back from a 19-point deficit to beat UC Davis Thursday night at the UC Davis Pavillion, 81-69. Shocking the Davis crowd, Riverside tied its program’s Division I-era record for the largest comeback in a game.

Both teams started out strong as several buckets were exchanged. Davis, however, would slowly take the lead midway through the half with a 19-7 run, 34-19. Riverside attempted to recover, but was unsuccessful as they failed to connect in the last minute of the half, 41-27. The Aggies went nine-for-17 from the three-point range, including three treys from Corey Hawkins.

Six minutes into the second half, Riverside stole all momentum from the Aggies. Making matters worse for Davis, the Aggies found their leading scorer Corey Hawkins on the bench due to an eye injury. Without Hawkins, the Aggies’ offense plummeted, which gave Riverside the advantage. Sam Finley connected on six of seven key free throws, paired with Taylor John’s phenomenal reverse dunk, which was assisted by Nick Gruninger. With two minutes remaining, the Highlanders would secure the victory as the Aggies failed to connect on their three point attempts, 81-69.

UC Riverside shot over 70 percent from the field in the second half, connecting on six of seven three pointers during the period.

Johns once again led the Highlanders (6-11, 1-2) with 22 points, to go along with six rebounds. Off the bench, Finley sparked the team with 19 key points. Chris Patton added 14 points, while Steven Thornton tallied a total of 13 points. Hawkins led the Aggies with 18 points despite sitting out most of the second half.

January, 18, 2014

Rainbow Warriors 100 – Highlanders 69  

Coming back from a record 19-point deficit, the men’s basketball team hoped to even its conference record by defeating Hawaii (12-5) Saturday night. Hawaii, however, would send Riverside packing with yet another loss as they took the victory, 100-69.

Four minutes into the first half, the Rainbow Warriors led by double digits, 12-1. The Highlanders struggled to connect as they missed jumpers and turned over the ball. Throughout the half, Riverside could not keep up with the pace established by Hawaii, who pulled forward by 25 points with only two minutes remaining, 49-24.

Highlander Sam Finley gave it his all as he led the half with 10 points. Hawaii ended the half with three players in double digits: Garrett Nevels, Christian Standhardinger and Brandon Spearman. Hawaii connected on 20 of 22 free throws compared to Riverside’s 11 of 18.

Riverside continued to push forward in hopes of cutting the lead, but would fall short. Hawaii dominated in every aspect of the game as they led by as many as 40 points throughout the night. Riverside cut the 40-point deficit to 31 points on two occasions but didn’t get closer than that as the game would come to a close with Hawaii on top, 100-69.

Freshman guard Finley had a great week as he once again led Riverside with 19 points. Austin Quick scored a career-high 15 points, while Chris Patton would tally a total of 11. Hawaii’s Standhardinger led all scorers with 27 points.

The Highlanders will now return home to face UC Santa Barbara (11-5, 2-1) on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center Arena.

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