Highlanders men’s basketball finishes winless in first week

Courtesy of UCR Athletics

UC Riverside’s men’s basketball team looked for a fresh start to a new season, after last season’s dismal (9-22, 4-12 record) and close loss to UC Davis in the Big West Tournament.

This season, the Highlanders brought in new head coach David Patrick to replace Dennis Cutts, who was fired after a 5-9 start to last season. Patrick served as an assistant coach at Texas Christian University the last two seasons, and was an integral part of recruiting his godson Ben Simmons while at LSU in 2015. At TCU, he helped bring in international prospects Lat Mayen and Kouat Noi. He looks to apply his recruiting expertise here at UCR.

The Highlanders started the first half slowly and trailed 13-3 early on. Despite shooting 33 percent in the first half, they used a 28-11 run fueled by their three-point shooting to close the gap to 28-27. Junior guard Dikymbe Martin led all scorers with 13 points at half time, and finished with a game-high 20 points.

Martin temporarily gave the Highlanders a 32-31 lead in the opening minutes of the second half, but UCR committed several turnovers that contributed to an 14-0 Beaver run that extended the deficit to 47-35. The Highlanders were also overwhelmed by the smothering Oregon State defense and allowed the Beavers to consistently score inside the paint, where they were able to score a total of 44 points.

Oregon State won 72-59, and finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field, while limiting UCR to 38 percent and forcing 11 turnovers.  We had a six-minute run where we turned it over six times and they got it going,” Patrick said via the Associated Press.

Overall, the Highlanders could not slow down junior forward Tes Tinkle, who led the Beavers with 19 points, or brothers Stephen and Ethan Thompson, who each finished with 19 and 18 points respectively.

The Highlanders continued their Northwest road trip against the Portland State Vikings (0-1), who were fresh off a loss to 14th-ranked Oregon in their road opener.

The first half was tightly contested, and neither team gained a significant advantage over the other. Both teams turned the ball over several times, and UCR missed an opportunity to lead heading back to the locker room as redshirt junior guard Eric Rwahwire coughed up the ball that led to a layup from the opposition to tie the score at 36 going into halftime.

The second half was just as close, as both teams continued to trade blows and could not create a lead over the other. However, with the Highlanders leading 58-56 with eight minutes to go, they suddenly struggled on both ends of the floor. Several fouls, 11 straight missed field goals, and turnovers fueled a Viking 15-6 run over the final minutes, and UCR lost 71-64 and fell to (0-2) on the season.

Highlander sophomore guard Jordan Gilliam finished with a team-high 11 points and dished out a game-high eight assists, but also committed seven turnovers. UCR finished with a total of 24 turnovers, compared to the 12 the Vikings committed.

Portland State senior guard Derek Brown finished with a game-high 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting, and sophomore forward Brendan Rumel shot 5-for-7 to finish with 11 points.

Up next, the Highlanders finish their season-opening three-game road trip at the UNLV Rebels on Tuesday, Nov. 13, before returning for their home opener against UC Merced on Homecoming Night, Saturday, Nov. 17.

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