Jan. 3, 2013
Highlanders 65 – Matadors 64

In the midst of a 3-10 season that many Highlander fans have dismissed as a lost cause, a glimmer of hope was cast in the form of a standout performance by Chris Patton, who elevated the team to a 65-64 road victory over the 14-point favorite Northridge Matadors.

A tightly contested match from start to finish, the Matadors were poised to be en route to a victory with a 64-60 lead after a three-pointer by Matador Josh Greene at the 42-second mark. This appeared to land the proverbial dagger in the struggling Highlander squad.

Then, in an unthinkable turn of events that one could understandably attribute to divine intervention, Chris Patton scored on a layup while subsequently drawing a foul and converting on the and-one opportunity. On the ensuing Matador possession, the Highlanders forced a Landon Drew turnover and fed a red-hot Chris Patton yet again to give the Highlanders a 65-64 lead with 11 seconds to go. Tension filled the Matadome as the Matadors took the final possession in a do-or-die scenario. With four seconds to go, Allan Guei shot up a prayer that fell on deaf ears, sealing a UC Riverside upset.

The Highlanders were solid in both sides of the ball in their best win of the season. Offensively, three players reached double figures in scoring (Chris Patton – 19, Josh Fox – 13, and Chris Harriel – 11) while shooting an efficient 53.8 percent from the field. Defensively, the Highlanders successfully suffocated the Matador offense, holding Northridge to a paltry 38.9 percent from the field.

Jan. 5, 2013
Warriors 76 – Highlanders 61

Two days removed from their thrilling victory over the Northridge Matadors, the Highlanders made a trip to the Aloha State in hopes of upsetting a red-hot Hawai’i team and improving to 2-1 in Big West play. However, their hopes were broken when UCR fell to the Matadors 76-61.

With the score tied at 8-8 early in the first half, Hawai’i freshman guard Brandon Jawato took the game into his own hands, facilitating a 14-0 run by connecting on four straight three-pointers, giving Hawai’i a 25-10 lead with 6:55 remaining in the first half. Jawato would proceed to put the icing on his stellar first half performance with three more shots beyond the arc, giving Hawai’i a commanding 40-21 lead going into the locker room.

The Warriors’ dominance would continue in the second half, as they were able to push their lead to as much as 20. The Highlanders were able to open up a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 48-35 early in the second half, but the offensive juggernaut of the Hawai’i Warriors proved to be too much to handle as UC Riverside was incapable of a comeback.

The Highlanders appeared to be a different team than the one that upset the Northridge Matadors on Thursday Jan. 3, struggling mightily in all phases of the game. Offensively, the Highlanders shot a pitiful three for 16 behind the arc to go along with a 39 field goal percentage. Hawai’i had their way with the Highlander defense, shooting 63 percent from three-point range and converting on 55 percent of their total shots.

The men’s basketball team plays Saturday, Jan. 12 at Cal State Fullerton.