The UC Riverside (8-8, 2-1) women’s basketball team completed a special night with a 68-59 win against Cal Poly (6-10, 2-2) on Thursday, Jan. 12. The girls were awarded with rings for their sterling 16-0 record in the conference last season, sparking a convincing victory against the Mustangs.
The Highlanders started off slowly in this outing although quickly rebounded by the second quarter. The team connected on just 6-16 shots as they trailed Cal Poly 11-9 in the first quarter. Forward Rejane Verin got loose in the second quarter, tallying 16 points, three rebounds and three assists by halftime. Guard Lauren Holt pitched in 12 points, five rebounds and three assists to propel the Highlanders to a 37-31 lead at halftime.
UCR continued to dominate the rest of the game, fortified by a suffocating defense and commitment on the boards. UC Riverside finished with 46 total rebounds compared to Cal Poly’s 32. When asked whether rebounding had been a point of emphasis coming into the matchup, Head Coach John Margaritis replied “Some games it’s easier than others, but you always have to put in the effort to have a chance.” Continuing their dominance on the boards is crucial to their success moving forward.
Star forward Rejane Verin lit up the Mustangs for 25 points, ten rebounds, and four assists. Margaritis acknowledged Verin’s importance, noting, “Verin leads our team in so many categories, so she undoubtedly plays a huge role in our team’s success. We go as she goes.” Verin’s development as a player provided versatility and experience for the Highlanders. The team will look to support their star player with other consistent offensive threats, such as Holt and Simone DeCoud.
The Highlanders basked in enthusiasm as they eagerly awaited their rings during halftime of the men’s basketball game. Margaritis described the experience as “special because last season was so rewarding to all of us who were privileged to experience it.” Despite battling injuries throughout the season, the Highlanders still finished undefeated in the conference, further proliferating the resiliency and consistency displayed by that squad. Margaritis stated “it was an honor for all of us to receive the championship rings in front of our fellow students because we work so hard to represent them and our wonderful university.”
UC Riverside fell short of a victory in a tough 58-54 loss against UC Santa Barbara (7-9, 2-1) on Saturday, Jan. 14. It was a turnover-ridden match with 24 total turnovers for the Highlanders as they fell back to .500 with a tough loss in the Big West road opener.
The Highlanders did not shoot particularly well in this match up, capitalizing on just 40.4 percent of their shot attempts, however managed to hold their opponent to 40.4 percent as well. UCR sparingly won the rebound battle 35-33 although could not translate it into a win. It had been a closely contested bout the entire game that came down to the last few minutes. The Highlanders held the Mustangs to 37.04 percent shooting in the second half while they completed 42.31 percent of their shots. UCR had one last chance to tie the game however turned it over during their final possession to cap off an exciting 58-54 loss to the Gauchos. DeCoud was magnificent in this contest, finishing with 22 points and nine rebounds. Verin ended the game with 15 points on 54.5 percent shooting.
UC Riverside will be hosted by UC Irvine on Thursday, Jan. 19 for their season series finale before returning to Riverside for a match against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Jan. 21, both games start at 7 pm.