Last week, on Thursday, Jan. 23, UC Riverside’s men’s basketball team (13-9, 3-3) faced off against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (4-14, 1-3) in an intense game that the Highlanders came out on top in. This game was played after two consecutive losses for the men’s team, and the game was being covered by ESPN3.
The game began with the lead shifting back-and-forth between the two teams and Cal Poly aggressively attacking the paint unsuccessfully. However, by halftime, Riverside had scored 48 points and Cal Poly had 29. The Highlanders kept the lead by playing smart and passing the ball to the open man. It was clear that UCR was communicating on the court and had no problem adapting and adjusting their strategy throughout the game to handle everything Cal Poly threw at them. With only eight minutes left in the game, Cal Poly instituted a full-court press. In the end, the Highlanders won by 33 points, 18 of which were scored by junior forward Arinze Chidom, who led both teams in scoring. Australian sophomore guard Dragan Elkaz also contributed 14 points and four three-pointers.
This week’s game was also played in honor of Coaches Versus Cancer and there was a moment of silence in memory of those who have been tragically lost to cancer. The fight against cancer is a cause near and dear to the hearts of the coaches and the players. After the game, Head Coach David Patrick said that the team’s defense was better this week than the previous two games, and he predicted that next week’s game against Santa Barbara will be tough.
“We were defending for the most part, shot the ball well tonight, defended well, (Chidom) especially played well,” Patrick said. He believed that ESPN3 covering the game helped motivate the team to play better, stating, “I’d have ESPN out here every night!”
The Highlander also spoke to senior guard Dikymbe Martin and asked about winning after two consecutive losses. He responded, saying, “We weren’t playing up to our potential the last two games.”
Also, in response to ESPN3 covering the game, he said, “It’s a good feeling, being on TV, but we still play the same way.” He described the teamwork the team displayed, adding, “Communication is something they preach to us all the time, ‘talk it out.’”
Cal Poly kept attacking the rim offensively, but Riverside’s defense was stronger and their constant communication allowed them to easily adapt to overcome every strategy from the opposition.
Up next, on Thursday, Jan. 30, the Highlanders will battle against Long Beach State (7-14, 2-3) in Riverside.