Matthew Au, CW

The UC Riverside’s men’s basketball team swept Occidental College 106-30 on Saturday night. After traveling to Omaha, Nebraska earlier in the week to face off against Creighton University, UCR suffered a stunning defeat and eagerly awaited a strong comeback against their next opponent. As the SRC Arena roared to life, the Highlanders challenged and overpowered the Occidental Tigers the entire game without setback. 

Courtesy of UCR Athletics

UCR opened the game with two successful steals by graduate guard Flynn Cameron transitioning into two layups made by Flynn and senior guard Zyon Pullin. With a quick layup scored by the Tigers, the Highlanders in reprisal scored two three-pointers and an additional layup from Cameron, Pullin and sophomore center Jhaylon Martinez to set a 10-point lead of 12-2 with 14:47 left. UCR established a sudden 16-point score streak with four successful three-pointers made within a span of five minutes. Feeling confident, UCR substituted most of their starting players despite Occidental beginning to trade three-pointers and jump shots with UCR. Once more UCR scored back-to-back three-pointers from Pullin and graduate guard Jamal Hartwell II, followed by three successful free throws yet again from Hartwell with 5:25 left. In the final five minutes of the first half, Occidental began to eat away at UCR’s lead with two three-pointers and one jump shot. Without ease, the Highlanders outperformed OU’s efforts with redundant three-pointers and free throws to bring a close to the first half at 52-19, a 32-point lead for UCR. 

Beginning the second half, freshman forward Lachlan Olbrich scored two layups following a steal by Pullin. As UCR and OU continued to exchange two-pointers, UCR once more gained another scoring streak with 16:35 left. After subsequent three-pointers and layups scored by Olbrich and Flynn, UCR was able to substitute their lead shooters for auxiliary players. Keeping the scorestreak alive, Hartwell and sophomore forward Vladimer Salaridze scored repetitive three-pointers with many other players contributing to the scoreboard as the game’s final ten minutes rolled around. As Occidental continued to put up an unsuccessful defense and offense, Highlander starters were once more put in to finish off the game. Martinez, Olbrich, Pullin and Salaridze all put up additional three-pointers or layups with additional assists and shots made by freshman guard Nate Pickens and sophomore forward Luke Turner. In the final minutes of the game, Occidental valiantly scored another successful layup and one free throw but was met by two layups from both Martinez and Turner. With only 12 seconds remaining, OU scored one final layup to close out the game 106-30. 

The lead scorers from the blowout were Olbrich and Hartwell, scoring 16 and 15 points respectively, both season highs. Pullin trailing on the scoresheet put up 14 points and 2 steals. All three players established season highs for the number of three-pointers made and attempted. Olbrich shot 2-3 from three-point range, Hartwell 4-6 and Pullin 2-2. This game recorded the season high for most three-pointers made and attempted by the entire team, shooting 19-40 from downtown, cumulating to a 47.5% success rate in three-pointers made. 

As the Highlanders tie their season win-to-loss ratio at 2-2, they aim to beat Weber State at Henderson, Nevada, another NCAA Division 1 team on Monday, November 21.