Jan. 30, 2014

Matadors 93 – Highlanders 89

Looking for their third victory of the conference, the Highlanders (7-14, 2-5) faced Cal State Northridge (11-11, 3-4) Thursday evening. Tying the game nine times throughout the night, both teams went head-to-head, but the Matadors would steal the victory in overtime, 93-89.

Shots were falling from both sides during the first half as neither team cooled off during the opening possessions. The Matadors made 57.1 percent of their shots for the half as Riverside was close behind, drilling 18 of 25. Northridge enjoyed a 10-0 run in the midst of the period, but UCR outplayed their opponents as a Taylor Johns dunk closed the half, giving the Highlanders a six point lead, 49-43.

The second half started off slowly as both teams missed shots and turned the ball over. The Highlanders missed four of their first five shots, but Riverside continued to push forward as they took their largest lead with nine minutes remaining, 68-59. The Highlanders would slowly lose momentum as the Matadors clawed their way back into the game. Four minutes later, Matador Ben Vozzola tied the game 69-69 with a jumper. With 16.1 seconds remaining, Sam Finley scored on a layup to tie the game again at 80-80. With three seconds left on the clock, Johns would block Vozzola’s layup, which would force overtime.

Johns gave an early lead to the Highlanders, but the teams continued to swap buckets. With one minute remaining, Matador Josh Greene nailed a three-pointer that would end Riverside’s lead. With the Matadors up by two, Riverside had plenty of opportunities to tie the game, but would fail as they missed free throws and layups. With 16 seconds remaining, Finley attempted to connect a jumper to tie the game once again, but missed off the back iron. The Matadors were quick on their feet as they took possession of the ball and Stephen Maxwell scored the final points of the game, 93-89.

Scoring double digits for the 10th game in a row, Finley led Riverside with a career-high 27 points. Johns added 16 points, Steven Thorton tallied 14 and Chris Patton added 13. Maxwell led the Matadors with 24 points, while Greene chipped in 22.

The Highlanders will now return home to face Cal State Fullerton (7-12, 2-3) on Thursday Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center Arena.