Willborn III ties record for most defensive rebounds as men’s basketball wins two straight

Courtesy of UCR Athletics

The UC Riverside men’s basketball team earned their first win of the season on the road against the University of Nebraska (0-2) on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The game was within a four point margin at halftime but the Highlanders took control offensively in the second half, securing the 66-47 victory. 

After the first 10 minutes of action, the Highlanders had a nine point deficit and were down 19-10 to the Cornhuskers. However, after a timeout from Head Coach David Patrick, the Highlanders regrouped and started an offensive surge to shift the momentum back to their side. By halftime, the Highlander had the lead, 32-28. 

The Highlanders continued their offensive surge in the second half as they began to increase their lead with a barrage of three-pointers. They came out of the locker room shooting a red-hot 53% from beyond the arc. The Cornhuskers were unable to match the pace of the Highlanders and the game resulted in a loss for Nebraska. 

Junior guard George Willborn III led the way for the Highlanders, tying the UCR program record for the most defensive rebounds in a game with 18. Willborn III tied the record with former Highlanders Kevin Bradshaw and Taylor Johns. Willborn also contributed 13 points and three steals to the box score. 

UCR dominated Nebraska on the boards, grabbing 49 rebounds as a team compared to the 29 rebounds from Nebraska. In total, the Highlanders accumulated 36 defensive rebounds, half of which were snagged by Willborn III alone. 

Multiple Highlanders contributed on the offensive end as four Highlanders scored in double figures. Sophomore guard DJ McDonald was the high scoring man for the Highlanders, finishing the night with 15 points on 66% shooting from behind the arc. McDonald also had a perfect night from the free-throw line, going three for three. 

Dragan Elkaz, a sophomore guard from Australia, also had a strong night offensively, scoring 14 points. Elkaz knocked down four three-pointers in the game on 50% shooting from three. Elkaz also contributed five rebounds to the box score. Junior guard Dominick Pickett added 10 points, four of which came from the free-throw line. Sophomore forward Zac Watson did not score in the game but still managed to grab a career-high 12 rebounds. 

Callum McRae, a center from New Zealand, got the start at center for the Highlanders. McRae had a solid night and totaled nine points and six rebounds. McRae was quite impactful on the defensive end of the court as he patrolled the paint and finished with two steals and a block.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, the Highlanders got another win against the University of Idaho (1-1). McRae led the team with a double-double, posting 21 points and 10 rebounds.

The Highlanders will hope to continue their momentum when they battle Sacramento State (1-0) on Friday, Nov. 15, in Sacramento.