By: Hansel Chu, Assistant Sports Editor

The UC Riverside men’s basketball team got an easy victory against Cal State Northridge 77-67 on Saturday night. Coming off of a narrow victory against Cal State Bakersfield last Saturday, the Highlanders were scheduled to take on UC Santa Barbara Thursday night. However, due to COVID-19 protocols, the game was canceled, adding to the abundance of games that were canceled this season for the Highlanders. The canceled games seemed to have no effect on UC Riverside as they made easy work of CSUN.

Courtesy of UCR Athletics

Sophomore guard Wil Tattersal got things started for UCR with a 3-pointer. This ignited an early 14-2 run for the Highlanders to open the game as they hit three early triples. The Matadors settled into the game and went on a quick 7-0 run to get back into the game, 14-9, with 11:52 left in the first half. Tattersal and graduate student Dominick Pickett started to heat up as they both hit 3-pointers to lead to 23-12 with 9:12 left in the half. Junior guard Flynn Cameron also got into the action as he sank a triple to extend the lead to 14, and back-to-back 3-pointers from Pickett put the Highlanders up 34-20 with 5:16 left in the half. A pair of made free throws from Cameron gave UC Riverside their largest lead of the first half as they went up 20, 46-26, as the first half started to expire. UCR went into halftime with a 48-30 lead as they shot a blistering 9-18 from 3-point range. Tattersall and Pickett led the Highlanders at the half with 12 points apiece.

Tattersal and Pickett continued the light it up from downtown in the second half as UC Riverside continued to maintain their 20 point lead. CSUN, however, chipped down the Highlander lead bit by bit as the second half continued to roll on. A pair of made free throws from Atin Wright brought the UCR lead down to 14, 61-47, just under the halfway point of the second half. Soon later, another pair of made free throws and a layup from Wright cut the Highlander lead to 10, 63-53, with 7:53 left in the game. However, an 8-0 run from UC Riverside extended the lead back to 18 led by back-to-back triples from Tattersal and junior point guard Zyon Pullin. The Matadors again would not let up as they continued to chip into the Highlander lead, but Pullin restored order for UC Riverside by knocking down huge free throws and controlling the Highlander offense. A pair of made free throws from Pullin iced the game as UCR secured the victory 77-67. 

Tattersal finished with a career-high of 22 points, which included shooting a perfect 4-4 from the 3-point land. Pickett continued his strong stretch of games by putting up 15 points, which included five 3-pointers. Pullin filled the stat sheet as he finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. The Highlanders made 13 3-pointers, their first time hitting double-digit 3-pointers since Nov. 26 against Florida A&M. 

The Highlanders improve their record to 10-5 (3-1) and move up to No.3 in the Big West Conference Standings. They will play a crucial game at home against Cal State Long Beach on Thursday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m.