Dec. 6, 2014
Highlanders 88 – Vikings 62
Another Saturday night meant another win for the men’s basketball team. Unlike the Highlanders’ nail-biting victory of 59-58 against Bakersfield on Dec. 2, this was far from a close win. The Highlanders smashed the Vikings, 88-62, shooting 64.8 percent from the field for the contest.
Although UCR completely dominated, the win was not an easy task. “I thought they were a really talented basketball team. Outside of probably Utah, maybe the most talented we’ve faced,” shared Head Coach Dennis Cutts.
As soon as the game started, Portland took the lead. With less than a minute into the game, Portland State’s Tiegbe Bamba scored the opening points with a layup. This did not last long because the Highlanders soon took the lead. With 13:31 remaining, the score was 12-6 in favor of UCR.
The plot twist occurred further in the game when there was a five-point possession in favor of Portland State, which led to the visiting team leading, 23-22. The Vikings quickly picked up their intensity with layups and timely three-pointers. However, both teams had 11 turnovers. With 2:40 remaining the Highlanders were up by seven points with a score of 32-25. UCR went into the locker room at intermission up by five points, 37-32. Portland only led for 2:22 of the first half while UCR led for 15:57.
After intermission, UC Riverside returned to the court but with more fire in their system. With the time at 19:25, Taylor Johns scored a layup. After that shot, the scoreboard kept increasing in favor of the Highlanders. Jaylen Bland quickly followed with a three-pointer. The intensity of the offense increased and the team continued to tally up points.
With 10:58 remaining in the game, UCR was ahead, 58-43. The Vikings tried to catch up but failed to do so. With minutes remaining, Bland and Austin Quick knocked down a pair of treys, bringing the score to 88-59. Portland followed with a shot and a layup by Brandon Cataldo, but it was not enough to defeat UCR as the Highlanders won 88-62.
The whistle blew and the crowd went wild, clapping and cheering for the victors. The team was content as well to have won another game. “I feel great actually,” shared Bland. “It’s a good win for us, but we’re not satisfied at all, we just want to keep getting better.”
Johns, one of the lead scorers of the night with 20 points, shared, “On the court it felt like it was way easier to score … it was like everyone had it going for them and (Portland) couldn’t do anything.”
UCR finished the contest with the third-highest shooting performance in school history (64.8 percent) while knocking down nine-of-18 three-pointers from beyond the arc.
Johns led the Highlanders with 20 points and five rebounds while Bland tallied 17 points.
The Highlanders are looking to continuously improve as their schedule becomes more vigorous. The win against Portland, however, helps them gain momentum as they face UCLA on Dec. 10 at the Pauley Pavilion.