Coming off three tough losses against Northeastern, Alaska Anchorage, and Texas State, UC Riverside pulled out a win by beating Northern Colorado 69-63 with tough defense. They were one and five before heading into Saturday’s Dec. 1 game against Northern Colorado and desperate for a win. Struggling with inconsistency and a lack of both a powerhouse offense and good defense, UC Riverside battled for their victory.The Highlanders struggled offensively coming into the game. Turning over the ball, and missing their first two jumpers, Northern Colorado jumped out to a five to nothing run that looked like a bad start for Riverside. A quick layup by UCR’s Chris Harriel combined with Riverside’s impressive defense led to an eight to three run that tied the game up at eight points each.
Davin Guinn symbolized the Highlanders stingy defense with an early steal in the first half, causing another Northern Colorado turnover. Highlander Harriel continued Riverside’s strong defense with two steals of his own early in the game. Although their offense struggled momentarily, a block and a steal gave UC Riverside another lead, at 12-11. This was done by a Chris Patton dunk. Riverside then went on another seven to two run thanks to their great defense and some spotty shooting. A nine to three run signaled a defensive half that saw Northern Colorado shoot under 20 percent. Riverside held five players to zero field goals made in the first period, as Northern Colorado faced an uphill battle heading into the second half. Patton led the first half with eight points.
The second half began with a couple made free throws that strengthened UC Riverside’s lead, and captured the beginning of an explosive half by Robert Smith. A five to one run opened the second half and quickly led to a 10 to zero run a few minutes later, in what looked like a blowout for Riverside as Colorado missed more shots caused by tough defense. Robert Smith and Chris Harriel stifled Northern Colorado and the Highlanders at one point led 43 to 16.
Colorado then went on a large run of their own, scoring 23 points to Riverside’s nine, bringing the score to 52 to 39. Colorado turned their defense into offense by taking Riverside’s blueprint with tough defense. Colorado eventually brought the score to 66 to 59, fueled by Tate Unruh’s 14 second half points, and the stingy defense by Derrick Barden. Robert Smith, however, proved to be too much a
s it was just too late for Colorado to come back. Robert Smith scored four points in the final minute to seal the deal. Robert Smith finished the game with 21 points and Chris Harriel finished with 17.