GAME NOTES: The Highlanders of UC Riverside shoot for just their third road win of the season tonight, as they clash with the Cal Poly Mustangs in Big West Conference action at Mott Gym.
All alone in last place in the Big West, UCR has won just three times in 12 conference bouts. The team was in action just two nights ago versus UC Santa Barbara and came up short in a 55-54 final, the fourth straight setback and the fifth in the last six outings for the program.
Meanwhile, Cal Poly is tied with Cal State Northridge for fifth place in the league standings with a mark of 5-7 following a 67-59 setback on Thursday versus Cal State Fullerton. The loss was the second in a row and the sixth in seven games for the group.
The Highlanders won the first meeting of the season last month at home by a score of 61-58, which means the all-time series now numbers 45-44 in favor of Cal Poly.
The difference after 40 minutes of action was just a single point on Thursday night, but for the most part the Highlanders were never really in contention until the final minutes when they made a late push against UCSB on the road. Taylor Johns registered a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, adding five blocked shots and a couple of steals, while Lucas Devenny used a perfect 4-of-4 showing from the floor off the bench to generate another 10 points for the visitors.
After 26 games, of which he has started all but one, Johns leads the Highlanders not only in scoring with 13.1 ppg, but also on the glass with 8.3 rpg, but still those efforts do not completely overcome his mere 59.5 percent shooting at the free-throw line. Chris Patton and Sam Finley are also solid offensive threats with 12.8 ppg and 11.7 ppg, respectively, although the latter is shooting just 38.9 percent from the floor and 29.3 percent behind the 3-point line.
Chris Eversley logged a double-double two nights ago against Cal State Fullerton with 19 points and 12 rebounds, although he shot just 5-of-14 from the floor for a team that was 35.8 percent accurate in the meeting. Eversley did knock down 1-of-2 behind the 3-point line, the rest of the team combining for 1-of-11. Dave Nwaba pitched in with 13 points and six boards as he and Eversley made a collective 13-of-19 at the free-throw line, which means the rest of the roster combined for only 6-of-11.
Despite shooting just 39.7 percent from the floor, including 29.6 percent on the perimeter this season, Eversley is still the leading scorer for Cal Poly with his 13.4 ppg. As he showed on Thursday, Eversley is also the biggest threat on the glass for the Mustangs with his 7.5 rpg, while Nwaba (11.5 ppg) brings another 4.6 rpg to the table to help the cause.
Cal Poly isn't exactly blowing opponents out of the water at home, but having Eversley to lean on and knowing that the Highlanders are struggling on the road has to give the hosts an advantage of some kind.
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