The UC Riverside men’s basketball team (5-2) earned their third straight win after beating Longwood University (4-3) on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at the SRC Arena. The final score was 71-58, with the Highlanders coming out on top. The standout game saw four Highlanders record double figures in scoring.
The Highlanders started the game hot, scoring 19 straight points within the first five minutes of action. Standing at fifth place in opponent points per game in the NCAA, the Highlanders did not shy away from showcasing their nationally ranked defense and kept Longwood scoreless for the first eight minutes of the game. In their unanswered run, Riverside converted on 8-of-12 field goal attempts and held Longwood to missing all 11 of their attempts to score. The Lancers fought hard in the last 12 minutes of the half, making four three-point shots to cut the lead and go into the second half trailing 31-25.
”I thought we started the game aggressive, and I also knew we weren’t going to keep them scoreless. They’re well coached, they shoot a lot of threes, and that’s what got them in the game,” Head Coach David Patrick said in an interview with The Highlander.
Momentum carried into the second half for the Lancers as they started the period strong and took their first lead of the game with 12 minutes remaining. The game slowed with both teams’ defenses working hard, until the last six minutes when the Highlanders caught fire for the win after a massive dunk from junior guard George Wilborn III electrified the game. The game winning run was highlighted by sophomore guard Dragan Elkaz’s three point barrage, in which he hit three straight three-pointers as UC Riverside closed the game on a 28-16 scoring run.
“In the second half, we were missing shots we were supposed to make and that’s kind of what put the game in a lull there,” Coach Patrick said. He continued, “Hats off to them for their fight, they’re a good team that made it to the postseason last year. The good thing is we were able to fight back.”
Elkaz led the game in scoring with 15 points, followed by junior guard Dominick Pickett who finished with 14. Sophomore center Callum McRae and junior guard George Wilborn III also scored in double figures. McRae put up 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Willborn scored 12 points as well as recording an impressive 12 rebounds.
The Highlander’s winning mentality carried into Friday, Nov. 29 when they hosted Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (2-6) at the SRC Arena. They protected their undefeated home record, beating Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 69-51 and improving their overall record to 6-2. The game was led by graduate student guard Khyber Kabellis, who contributed 11 points, five rebounds and six assists to the box score.
Next, The Highlanders will take the show on the road and face Cal Baptist (3-4) in the Crosstown Showdown at CBU on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m.