GAME NOTES: A couple of teams seeking their first win of the season collide at the Student Rec. Center on Wednesday night, as the UC Riverside Highlanders entertain the Fresno State Bulldogs in non-conference action.
This game marks the first home date of the season for the Highlanders who are already 0-2 after just a few days of action. The team began 2012-13 with a 91-59 setback against DePaul on Friday, and then played a bit closer with Illinois-Chicago on Sunday, yet still came out on the short end of a 59-52 final.
The Bulldogs, set to play their first home game of the season later this week against Pacific, nearly knocked off the Texas Longhorns on the road in Austin on Friday night, but unfortunately FSU still returned to the Golden State with a 55-53 blemish on their record.
The Bulldogs have won all four previous meetings between the programs, the most recent of those coming on Feb. 19, 2011 at home as FSU delivered a 68-49 decision against UCR.
As was the case last season, Kevin Olekaibe was expected to be the focal point of the offense for the Bulldogs, but against Texas he may have been for all the wrong reasons. Olekaibe, who isn't afraid to take a shot from anywhere on the floor, finished with just three made field goals on 15 attempts, hitting 1-of-7 behind the three-point line, in the two-point loss to the Longhorns. Then again, Olekaibe wasn't the only won who struggled shooting the ball for the Bulldogs because the entire unit connected on just 35.6 percent. The team managed to make just 5-of-19 beyond the arc and 6-of-11 at the free-throw line where they were outscored by a margin of 18-6. Beaten on the glass, 43-32, Fresno State was able to limit Texas to just 1-of-13 shooting beyond the arc in the opener. The lone double-digit scorer for the Bulldogs was reserve Marvelle Harris who tallied 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor.
In a game that was decided by just seven points, there were a number of areas in which Riverside could have slightly improved upon to make it into the win column against UIC on the road. First of all, the Highlander shot just 4-of-17 behind the three-point line, and then overall the squad was a mere 35.2 percent accurate from the floor. UC Riverside won the rebounding battle, 40-29, and had a total of 14 boards at the offensive end of the floor, yet the team scored only 12 second-chance points. Josh Fox and Chris Patton both scored 10 points for the Highlanders, the former also clearing a game-high 10 rebounds in defeat. While it has only been two games, UCR is shooting just 38.1 percent from the floor, 26.5 percent from three-point range and a dismal 55.0 percent at the charity stripe. Fox is averaging 13.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg to pace the group in both departments.
As long as Olekaibe stays under relative control when handling the ball and his teammates get their own share of shot attempts, Fresno State should take this road outing.
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