Feb. 5, 2015
49ers 68 – Highlanders 63
Thursday night the men’s basketball team traveled down to Long Beach, Calif. to compete against the Long Beach State 49ers. It was a close game as the Highlanders ended five points short of a victory with a score of 68-63.
The 49ers came out of the gate on fire, and it wasn’t until 6:56 into the game that the teams tied with a score of 10. With 6:06 remaining, a layup by Robert Boezeman put the Highlanders in the lead by one point. However, soon after, a dunk by the 49ers put Long Beach in a three-point lead. They remained in the lead for the rest of the half and finished 32-29.
Out of the locker room and onto the court again, the 49ers scored the first seven points of the second half. With 9:05 remaining in the game, Long Beach State held their largest lead of the night by 16 points. Though the Highlanders tried they were not able to tally up enough points to be at least one possession away from the 49ers. With only four seconds remaining, Taylor Johns slammed a dunk that brought the team to within five points, but well short of a victory.
Jaylen Bland and Johns each contributed 18 points on the night while Steven Thornton contributed 10. It was an unfortunate night for the Highlanders, but for Bland, it was historic: The junior transfer broke UC Riverside’s Division I-era record for three-pointers made in a single season. His shot with 17:45 remaining in the game tied the record with current UCR Assistant Coach Justin Bell and former Highlander Javon Borum, each of whom connected on 70 three-pointers. With only 17 seconds remaining, Bland broke that record with yet another trey.
Feb. 7, 2015
Highlanders 71 – Titans 66
Jaylen Bland scored 25 points and Taylor Johns dominated with 18 points and a game-high 14 rebounds to lead the men’s basketball team to a 71-66 overtime victory over the Cal State Fullerton Titans.
The Titans, who were playing their homecoming game at the Titan Gym, began the night in the lead as they raced to a 4-0 advantage. The Highlanders tallied up points and shortly after they tied 9-9 with 16:45 remaining. The Highlanders’ offense continued to click, and the team took the lead for the rest of the half, ending 37-29. UCR shot 56 percent from the field including six-of-11 from beyond the arc. Bland led the team with 13 points at intermission while Johns was near a double-double with seven points and eight rebounds.
Back on the court for the second half, UCR remained in the lead. The team held their largest lead of the night by 13 with 16:05 remaining. However, with 8:04 remaining the Titans caught up and tied; from then on the scores bounced back and forth. Fifty seconds remained on the clock and UCR was up by two; however, Titan Alex Harris knocked down two free throws that ended regulation with a tied score 59-59.
Five minutes of intense overtime began. The teams tied twice but finally a free throw by Johns put the Highlanders in the lead. The Titans were three points behind, and though they tried, they failed to score enough points. With seven seconds remaining, Johns powered down a dunk, and as the whistle blew, the Highlanders brought home the victory 71-66.
The Highlanders prepare for their next stop at Hawaii on Thursday, Feb. 12.