On Thursday, Feb. 27, UCR’s men’s basketball team (15-15, 5-9) faced off against the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Gauchos (19-0, 8-5). While the Highlanders led the Gauchos after the first half, they eventually lost by a final score of 65-60. This game’s theme was “Blue Out” and was also dedicated to fan appreciation. There were several prizes given out to fans as a thank you for always supporting the team at home games.
The game began with the introduction of the starting five: redshirt junior forward Arinze Chidom, grad student guard Khyber Kabellis, redshirt junior guard Dominick Pickett, sophomore center Callum McRae and junior guard George Wilborn III. UCR had an incredible start and immediately pulled ahead with the lead and prevented the opposing team from reaching double digits for almost the first 10 minutes. The first half of the game saw the majority of points being made by Chidom and McRae. In the first half, UCSB’s senior guard Max Heidegger went down with an injury and McRae was able to slow down their sophomore forward Amadou Sow defensively. The Gauchos were given a total of six free throws in the first half, but at half time UCR was still ahead 30-24.
In the second half, however, as said by UCR’s Head Coach David Patrick, “We came out a step slow and we can’t do that against a good team.” The Gauchos quickly pulled ahead by taking and making three-point shots and despite their best efforts, the HIghlanders were unable to get ahead for the rest of the game.
Throughout the whole second half, the Highlanders kept committing fouls and ended up granting the Gauchos a total of 22 free throws. In the end, every time UCR closed the gap and came close to winning, UCSB would make another three-point shot much to the chagrin of the crowd. The overall score was 65-60 in favor of UCSB.
In a post-game interview, Patrick said, “Putting them at the free throw line is what killed us, you can’t defend those shots. You gotta play without fouling and we didn’t do that tonight. Your offense is not gonna win games — your free throws, rebounding and taking care of the ball (are what win games). We did a better job of that tonight. You have to convert free throws, they did and we didn’t.”
McRae scored 18 points total, the most points of any of the Highlanders in the game and said of his performance, “My teammates put me in a good position, I’m just trying to do my job every night and defend, rebound then the points will come.”
Next up, the Highlanders will compete against UC Davis (13-16, 7-6) on Saturday, March 7, in Riverside.
Men’s basketball, Gauchos, Highlanders, UC Davis, David Patrick, Callum McRae