GAME NOTES: The UC Riverside Highlanders hope to snap their seven-game losing streak as they host the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in a Big West Conference battle at the Student Recreation Center.
The Highlanders lost their seventh game in a row on Saturday when they were blown out, 75-35, by the Big West leading Long Beach State 49ers. The setback dropped UC Riverside to a 5-20 overall record which includes a 2-11 standing in Big West action. Chris Patton is pacing the team with 12.8 points per game on 54.9 percent shooting from the field and Chris Harriel chips in 10.5 ppg. Josh Fox is another solid forward for the Highlanders with averages of 9.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per outing.
Riverside have shot just 27.2 percent (28-of-103) over its past two outings. Patton has provided only 11 points over the past two games. The Highlanders made only 1-of-10 attempts from beyond the arc and submitted a dismal, 12- of-23 showing at the charity stripe versus LBSU, which drained 52.9 percent of its field goal attempts. The poor offensive showing did not come as too much of a shock for UC Riverside, as it has the lowest scoring offense average in the Big West at 59.6 ppg. The Highlanders have the fourth lowest scoring defense average in the conference with 67.9 points allowed.
The visiting Gauchos have also had a disappointing campaign, just not quite as poor. UCSB fell to 8-16 on the season on Saturday as it endured a 67-49 rout at Cal Poly. Alan Williams posted a double-double of 24 points and 17 boards in the contest and enters Wednesday leading the team with 17.5 points and 10.2 ppg. Kyle Boswell (12.6 ppg) and Taran Brown (11.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg) contribute double-digit scoring averages also to help the Gauchos net 65.4 ppg, which is the second lowest number among Big West schools. UCSB is better defensively, as it holds the opposition to 69.8 ppg to place fifth in the league.
Although Williams had a significant performance in the loss to Cal Poly, Michal Bryson's 10 points off the bench made him the only other Gaucho in double figures. UCSB was guilty of 16 turnovers and managed to pull down just five offensive rebounds on the night while Cal Poly connected on 11 attempts from beyond the arc to create some distance on the scoreboard. The Gauchos have not finished with a losing record since the 2004-05 campaign, but they would need a miracle to avoid one this year.
Neither of these teams have been an example of consistency this season. Both are very poor on the offensive end with UC Riverside standing out for its futility on the scoreboard. Williams is going to be the best player on the court which will give UCSB a slight edge against the struggling Highlanders.
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