PUB WISDOM

Tiger Who?

Highlanders Send Stangs to the Glue Factory

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Well, not really, so please don’t call PETA. But the No. 7 seed Highlanders did send No. 6 seed Cal Poly home early with a first-round exit in the Big West Tournament. The Highlanders’ 62-56 UCR victory, was only its second-ever D1 “post-season” win, and its first since the Nate Carter-Vili Morton days.  Read full coverage here.

When the team huddled before tip off, their team cheer was a business-like “Play hard” and ultimately their efforts resulted in a hard-earned if somewhat ugly win. Both teams got off to slow starts, and UCR held a slim 20-17 halftime lead after leading by as many as 10.

Cal Poly came out of the second half with more pressure and even led for a few minutes before UCR went back out in front and the two teams started trading buckets for an extended time. Ultimately, a series of defensive stops by the Highlanders resulted in a consistent 6 to 8-point gap down the stretch, forcing the Mustangs to start fouling with about a minute left. The right strategy, considering the Highlanders’ pathetic average from the stripe, but it didn’t pay off this time as Jalonni Diggs and Larry Cunningham made enough of their free throws to seal the deal.

UCR will have to raise its game to compete with Cal State Fullerton in the early game tonight. The Titans hold the fourth-best ppg average in D1. Fortunately for Rivi, defense and hustle are two of its strong suits. Couple that with a solid team offensive performance and it could be close enough down the stretch to be interesting.

No matter what happens tonight, however, it’s clear that UCR has made forward progress. As mentioned before, the Highlanders are plain competitive this season. Ask UCI, Cal Poly, Long Beach State, and Hawaii — teams they beat — as well as UCSB, Pacific, CSUN and the other teams they played tight.

Wooldridge, here’s your bogey for next season: .500

Pub Wisdom Predicts: CSUF 85, UCR 72

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