Just a week ago, the Highlanders (8-15, 2-5) downed the Cal Poly Mustangs (5-14, 1-5) in a dominating road victory, shooting 50 percent for the game and limiting Cal Poly to just 35 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point range. UCR won the game 74-51.
This time around, UCR found themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum, losing 71-45 at home.
“I didn’t think anybody was giving us effort,” Head Coach David Patrick said. “I would have put in my daughter.”
The Highlanders shot 34 percent from the field, and a dismal 14 percent from three, a far cry from the Big West-leading 38 percent entering the game. The Mustangs shot 55 percent from three, and 52 percent from the field, a stark difference to last week’s shooting totals.
“We have got to get back to sharing the ball,” Patrick said. “We don’t shoot dribble threes.”
The score was only 28-25 in favor of Cal Poly at halftime. However, they blew the game open with a 19-3 run to open the second half, which included a stretch of almost nine minutes in which the Highlanders made just one field goal and one free throw.
Freshman center Callum McRae led the Highlanders in scoring with 10 points, the only UCR player to finish in double-figures. Senior center Menno Dijkstra grabbed a game-high tying seven rebounds, and junior guard Dikymbe Martin dished out four assists.
For Cal Poly, senior guard Marcellus Garrick finished with a game-high 18 points, going 6-for-7 from long distance. Sophomore forward Mark Crowe grabbed seven rebounds, and junior guard Job Alexander finished with a game-high six assists.
Looking to put more energy into their next matchup after a lackluster performance, the Highlanders squared off against UC Davis (5-14, 1-4) on Saturday, Feb. 2. The Aggies entered the game having lost four of their five games and all 10 of their road games.
However, UC Davis made the SRC Arena feel like home, starting the game on a 9-0 run right from the opening tip.
The Highlanders could not get into rhythm, and trailed 25-7 after ten minutes, committing several turnovers and taking tough shots. UCR trailed 38-22 at halftime as Martin beat the buzzer at the end of the first half.
In the second half, the Highlanders were plagued by foul trouble, sending the Aggies to the free throw line 23 times, where they converted all 23 free throws, setting a new school record.
Though the Highlanders pulled to within 55-47 with under nine minutes to play, they could not get stops when they needed to, allowing UC Davis to shoot 53 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Despite shooting 50 percent from the field and 44 percent from three, the Highlanders fell 84-71, tying a season-worst for points allowed with 84 points. The Aggies also earned their first road victory in 11 tries.
Sophomore guard Jordan Gilliam led the Highlanders with 15 points and game-high tying six rebounds. Freshman forward Zac Watson finished with five assists.
For the Aggies, 5 foot 9 inches-tall senior guard TJ Shorts II played like the biggest player on the court, as he burned the Highlanders with his speed and scored 23 points off the bench while shooting 11-for-11 from the foul line. Junior guard Stefan Gonzalez grabbed six rebounds, and junior guard Rogers Printup dished out a game-high six assists.
Up next for the Highlanders, they look to end the Cal State Fullerton Titans’ (9-12, 5-2) five game winning streak, which started with a victory over UCR in January. They also welcome Big West heavyweight UC Santa Barbara (15-5, 4-2). The Gauchos currently sit in third place in the Big West standings.