STOCKTON – It would have been a pretty late maternity gift.
Freshman UC Riverside men’s basketball coach Mike Magpayo missed his team’s season opener when he unexpectedly had to go home for the birth of his first child, but the Highlanders nearly managed a 17-point deficit in the second half before falling to Pacific, 66 -60 , on Wednesday afternoon at the Spanos Center.
The host Tigers still led with 13 with six minutes to go before the Highlanders increased their defensive intensity, coming in five three times in the last three minutes before running short.
Freshman Wil Tattersall had 17 points for UCR (0-1), while Arinze Chidom added 11 points. Jock Perry had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Jeremiah Bailey had 19 points for Pacific. Pierre Crockrell II added 16 points and Daniss Jenkins had 10. Broc Finstuen added six rebounds.
While they played their first game since the coronavirus pandemic ended the game last March, both teams spent the first half acclimatizing and working to find chemistry and get into a rhythm. UCR was down 38-27 at half time.
“This is the first time this group has had a chance to play together,” said UCR assistant coach Mike Czepil, who led the team so that Magpayo could fly home on Tuesday to be with his wife Caroline for the birth of. their son Luke. . “We have a lot of new guys in the team this year and some who are playing for the first time. Combined with the fact that I haven’t played a game since the beginning of March, it’s a big obstacle to overcome quickly and get into the rhythm, but I thought we settled in well after the first few minutes. ”
UCR held the Tigers eight points over a 9:10 period in the second half, changing the pace of the game and allowing the Highlanders to narrow their gap. A Chidom-3 hand from the top of the arc got UCR within 53-43 with 7:24 left. The visitors narrowed the margin to 58-53 by 2:32 left, then crept back to 60-55 within five hours with just over a minute to go.
Pacific pushed the margin back to eight points via free throws, before Zyon found Pullin Chidom in the transition for a bouncing jumper who narrowed the margin to 63-57 with just 13.9 seconds left. Pacific made two free throws on the ensuing possession, then Tattersall hit a 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds to go to make it 65-60, but the Tigers closed it from there.
“We didn’t shoot great to start the second half, but as the coaching staff, we told our student athletes that their shots are going to fall,” said Czepil. “They had to keep shooting but also gave us a chance to win by defending well. They did that and they played well in terms of the situation – take a shot, make a stop, get a chance to play more assets – and we were there at the end. ”
Speaking from the Riverside hospital where his son arrived, Magpayo said he was satisfied with his team’s efforts on the journey.
“Once we sat down and played the way we are able to play defensively, things started to change,” said Magpayo. “While today hasn’t delivered the result we wanted, we need to keep this in perspective and recognize what it took to get a tip today in the midst of a global pandemic.
“From a purely basketball perspective, we’ve seen some really good things in the second half of our team and we’ve got a lot of great pieces to build on this year. I am proud of our coaching staff and players and excited for our next game. ”
Pacific surpassed UCR 29-23 and outperformed visitors 32-26 in paint. Pacific had 24 points on 15 UCR sales.
The Highlanders will play at Fresno State on Monday, before returning to Bethesda University of Anaheim, an NCCAA program, on Wednesday (December 2).