Feb. 2, 2012
Tigers 60 – Highlanders 52
Last Thursday, the UC Riverside men’s basketball team squared off against its Big West opponent, the Pacific Tigers. The match at the Student Recreation Center was a bust for the Highlanders, and UCR was outplayed by Pacific en route for its fourth straight loss, falling 60-52 at home.
Phil Martin was not an offensive threat as he usually has been, scoring only three points in the first half while finishing with 12 points on 4-12 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds. Riverside started off the gates with a three-pointer by Kareem Nitoto, giving the Highlanders their only lead of the half at 3-0. From there, UCR seemed very content in jacking up three-pointer after a three-pointer and finishing 4-13 behind the arc. Austin Quick, a reserve guard for the Highlanders, came in the game and made a huge spark for the team with six points on 2-3 from behind the arc in the first half.
Quick was asked about coming off the bench and giving a spark to the team. “I’m grateful for the opportunity,” he said. “We didn’t do enough of the little things and [we] need to find a way to dig ourselves out of these kinds of situations”
With 2:26 left in the first half, Pacific built its biggest lead at 13, 26-13. However, Pacific would be held to 26 for the rest of the half as UCR went on a run to finish the half down 22-26.
The second half started off with a turnover by Nitoto, but the Highlanders climbed back into a five-point lead at 35-30 with 13:02 remaining in the game. Pacific would use its 8-0 run, taking the lead at 35-38 with 11:39 left in the game. From there on, the game would be held by the Tigers as they prevented UCR’s comebacks. UCR’s last bucket was with at the 3:23 mark as they lost the game 52-60.
UCR coach Jim Wooldridge was asked about the team’s play on the night and the issues of turnovers. “The turnovers and the fouls, that has been our team of late,” he said. “We have to have a smart team to fix it, I can’t fix it.”
Feb. 4, 2012
Highlanders 59 – Aggies 54
The UCR men’s basketball team faced off against UC Davis in another Big West showdown. Saturday, at the Student Rec Center, the Highlanders broke their losing streak as they beat the Aggies in what was a great matchup, winning 59-54.
The game started off with a quite surprise as Riverside was without its main scorer, Phil Martin. UCR also lost David Chavarria to an injury so Austin Quick was placed in the starting lineup. In the first half, the two teams were playing with great competitiveness. The driving ability by UCR was key as they were able to score 16 in the paint and six points on fast break opportunities off their nine defensive rebounds as they looked for transitions points.
The turnovers the first half were down with only five and UCR sent Davis to the free-throw line seven times as they made six. With Martin out in the game, Elliott Berry stepped up, scoring six and grabbing five rebounds. B.J. Shearry and Robert Smith added six points of their own, helping UCR go up to only 26-28 on 12-33 shooting at half.
Coach Wooldrige was asked about the team’s play after the game. “The difference was free-throw shooting and the turnovers,” he explained. “It allowed us to win the game 59-54. It could have been in the low 60s. It was not a pretty win, I understand that, but it was a great, important win.”
The second half was superb for the Highlanders as they added 18 more points in the paint. They finished the game with 34 in the paint and 19 points off the Tigers’ 20 turnovers. UCR held UC Davis to 26 points in the half and held them to eight free-throws. The Highlanders went to the free-throw line 15 times, hitting 11 of them.
With 15:24 in the game, UCR was down 32-37 and would turn on its defensive pressure while taking a lead with a Shearry jumper to put them up 39-38 with 11:58 left. From there, the Highlanders were in charge as they got an ally-oop pass from Kareem Nitoto for a slam dunk by Shearry, giving UCR its biggest lead, 56-49. UCR sealed the game in the closing minutes and won by a final score of 59-54. BJ Shearry ended the game with a career-high 17 points.