The UC Riverside men’s basketball team defeated UC San Diego this week in an assured performance, helped by Zyon Pullin, Flynn Cameron, and Lachlan Olbrich. The Highlander’s were once again efficient from the floor, converting over 50 percent of their shots as a team although they struggled from beyond the arc hitting just over a quarter of their three point shots. The contest was close until just after halftime where the Highlanders started to build a lead over the Tritons and never looked back leading to a comfortable win in the SRC arena.
With the senior Pullin firmly back into the lineup after recovering from his injury in the past few games the Highlanders attempted to start the game off with a fast tempo. They struggled to get shots to fall early however and UC San Diego gained a 10 point lead early in the game. The Highlanders started to eat into the Tritons’ lead halfway through the half after they started to convert on baskets from all over the floor. Sophomore forward Luke Turner and Pullin connected from deep to keep the Highlanders within striking distance before the Highlanders went on a 16-7 down the stretch to tie the game. UC Riverside took a 39-37 halftime lead after Freshman forward Olbrich connected on a physical putback at the buzzer.
Pullin returned to his usual self after shaking off the rust from being out for an extended period, having 15 points at halftime and finishing the game with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting for his eighth 20-point game of the season. Momentum shifted at halftime with UCR finally fully breaking out of their shell and maintaining a two- and three-possession cushion after the break, thanks to Olbrich dropping 10 of his 14 points after halftime. UC Riverside dominated the Tritons on points in the paint with a 44-26 advantage, in addition to their ninth 10+ rebound margin of the season. This 10+ margin was made in large part with a seven rebound advantage on the offensive glass as the Highlanders played a physical brand of basketball all game.
UC San Diego closed the gap up to four halfway through the half but inside game from Olbrich, Pullin and pushed the Highlander lead back to double digits. Senior guard Cameron continued his fine form going above 10 points for the seventh time in Big West play and fourth straight game with at least 12 points and tacking on a game high seven rebounds helping the highlanders maintain their dominance down low. Pullin’s leadership cannot be understated, as the primary ball carrier he helped UCR keep the game at their own pace and his ability to make a shot over a defender all over the court helped his teammates get open when UC San Diego was forced to send help on the inside.
UCR is headed back out on the road, going to Bakersfield on Thursday (2/2) and Fullerton on Saturday (2/4) for more conference play before heading back to the SRC arena for a game versus UC Davis on February 11th, hoping to build on their best Big West start in program history.