After a tough shooting night, the men’s basketball team (6-12, 4-3) fell in a close matchup against the Cal State Northridge Matadors, 63-59. Prior to the CSUN game, UCR men’s basketball Head Coach Dennis Cutts highlighted the overall trend that was prominent during the team’s four-game winning streak, “We’re doing some good things offensively — we wanna shoot anywhere above 46 (percent) as well as put that together with excellent defensive numbers.” Saturday’s matchup showed only a fraction of what Cutts had in mind, as defense dictated the majority of it. The Highlanders held the Matadors to a shooting percentage of 32.1 percent, but ultimately struggled to get their offense going as well. After averaging a team shooting percentage of 47.6 from the field over the previous seven games, the Highlanders made only 34.4 percent of their shots during Saturday’s loss to CSUN. On top of that, UCR shot an abysmal 15.4 percent from beyond the arc. UCR guard Dikymbe Martin put up 13 points on 6-9 shooting from the field, while forward Secean Johnson put up 12 points of his own, but struggled to find the bottom of the basket, making only four of his attempted 15 shots.
On a more positive note, at least three Highlanders reached double figures for the fourth consecutive game, “One of our strengths as a team is the fact that we normally have multiple guys leading us in scoring,” Cutts stated, “Balance is a key factor and an obvious positive piece.”
Although they’re recently coming off of a broken winning streak, as well as a slow start to the season, Cutts believes the team is finally hitting their stride in terms of executing game plans successfully.
“It’s a process of putting a lot of pieces together, and it all started with the win over GCU (Grand Canyon University) during winter break,” Cutts stated. He makes a valid point, as six of the past seven games for UCR have been decided by single digits.
The Highlanders are currently tied with Cal State Long Beach for fourth place in the Big West standings, and look to control their own destiny by winning out for the rest of the season. They also look to complete the season sweep versus Hawai’i as the two face off for the second time in a week on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. at the SRC arena. The game will also be broadcast on ESPN3.