Highlanders around the Big West

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Men’s Basketball

The UC Riverside’s men’s basketball team began the season with a convincing win during Homecoming weekend but with back-to-back losses, they now have a 1-2 record. The second home game of the season on Monday, Nov. 17 was against Sacramento State as the Highlanders lost in the final moments with a score of 70-69. The third game was in Utah, and with the Highlanders in enemy territory, they were beaten 88-42.

Sacramento came out firing shots to lead 7-0 before Taylor Johns put UCR on the board, 7-2. UCR was unable to take the lead until 1:21 left in the first half, and it was quickly taken away with an end first-half score of 31-29. Despite shooting perfectly from the charity stripe (10-10) in the second half and even having a seven-point lead, the Highlanders were unable to close out the game, losing 70-69.

The game on the road was a completely different story. The Highlanders’ defense was nowhere to be found as they trailed 30-19 at the half, even with Utah native Nick Gruninger scoring all his free throws and leading the team with his seven points. The Highlanders were just unable to figure out an effective strategy as No. 25 Utah didn’t let up any pressure en route to the 88-42 win.

Cross-Country

The men’s cross-country season came to end with a 15th-place performance out of 29 teams in the Big West at the NCAA West Regional Championships. Seth Totten was the first Highlander to finish, placing 50th with a time of 30:27.9 while Cody Jordan finished in 69th behind him. With a combined score of 426 with the other five Highlanders, they were able to have the school’s best combined finish since 2009.

Raquel Hefflin from the UCR women’s cross-country team finished one of the best running seasons in UCR history as the senior placed 48th out of 253 runners at the NCAA Championship, earning the best finish for any UCR athlete at the event. She was one of only four individuals from a nonqualifying team to run at the NCAA Championships. She placed eighth out of 230 total runners in the Big West Regional Championships to advance while the team as a whole placed 23rd out of 34 teams in their last meet.

“I am really proud of Raquel and all that she accomplished this year,” Director of Cross-Country and Track and Field Irv Ray stated. “She moved up well at the end of the race and had the best-ever finish for a UCR runner.” Hefflin also earned the Big West Women’s Athlete of the Year honor before the championships.

Women’s Golf
UCR’s own Brittani Ferraro was named the Big West Women’s Golfer of the Month for her strong performances over the fall season. On Oct. 21 after a rough first day at the Santa Clara Colby Classic, she came back strong on the second day, shooting a 72 to lead the team to a first-place victory. With the help of Ferraro, UCR is now ranked 60th in the country, which is the sport’s best-ever ranking. Ferraro is the first UCR player to the win the award since Amelia Ek in 2011.

Jakeishya Le from Santa Ana, Calif. also recently signed a national letter of intent for the upcoming 2015-2016 season. Le scored 66 back-to-back to win the Trinity League championships. She also shot a 72 in the CIF Regionals and 72 in her individual.

The women’s golf team will kick off their winter season on Feb. 9, 2015 at the Long Beach Gold Rush tournament in Long Beach, Calif.

Women’s Volleyball

It was senior night for the Highlanders on Saturday evening as the women’s volleyball team honored the graduating class of 2015: Kecia Amber, Tyler Dorsey and Megan Reza. Each player walked out hand-in-hand with parents and family members gleaming with joy while the crowd applauded in the background.

On the court, the Highlanders fell to 18th-ranked Long Beach State in three sets. The 49ers captured the first set, 25-11, recording 13 kills to one error in 24 total attempts. The second set saw nine tied scores while the Highlanders battled to remain competitive in the period. The team recovered from a 17-12 deficit to tie the score at 17-17 behind a pair of kills by Reza and Helena Peric. Long Beach State, however, reeled off seven points to win, 25-18.

The third set was no kinder to the home team as Long Beach State tallied another positive kills-to-error ratio (14-1) to win the set, 25-12. Peric recorded a career-high 15 kills on the night. UCR will now play its final game of the season at Hawaii on Friday, Nov. 28.

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