Maybe a little insecurity is good for the UC Riverside basketball team.
UCR, coming off a tumultuous summer with a change in coaching and potential athletic program extinction on the effects of the coronavirus, walked into Las Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday and stunned Washington, 57-42, in a no-nonsense conference game scheduled just two days before.
Jock Perry, a 7-foot graduate transfer from Saint Mary’s, scored 21 career points in 26 minutes on 9-for-15 shots and was the only UCR player in double figures. Forward Arinze Chidom had eight points and picked up a career-high 12 rebounds to take a 49-33 backboard lead for UCR (1-1), which lost its opener to Pacific, 66-60 in Stockton last Wednesday.
It was the first win for Mike Magpayo, who took over as head coach after David Patrick left to become Eric Musselman’s associate head coach at Arkansas. The Highlanders are 1-0 with Magpayo on the bench; he missed the Pacific match to be with his wife for the birth of their son, Luka James Magpayo.
This game was quickly added to the Highlanders’ schedule on Sunday after their scheduled Monday game at Fresno State was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test on the Fresno roster. Washington (0-2), which lost to No. 2 Baylor, 86-52, on Sunday, chose to stay in Las Vegas for Thursday’s Pac-12 opener in Utah and agreed to play against the Highlanders.
UCR led most of the game, extending his margin to 42-29 with 11:56 to play on a Perry basket and free throw. Washington rallied to draw in 44-38 with 9:03 left, but the Huskies never made another basket and missed their last 12 shots along the trajectory. UCR, which finished eighth in the nation last season in defensive scoring (60.6 opponents scored average), limited Washington to 29.6 percent from the field (16 for 54, including a 7-for-29 point in the second half).
Zion Pullin added nine rebounds and nine assists for UCR. Perry had 14 points in the first half on 7-of-10 shots and Pullin had four points, six rebounds and seven assists as the Highlanders led 29-22 after forcing nine turnovers and not allowing a offensive rebound.
Quade Green scored 18 points for Washington (0-2), which was picked by the media to finish ninth in the Pac-12. Hameir Wright had seven points, six rebounds and four steals, but he was only 1 for 10 out of the 3-point range.
UCR was scheduled to play Bethesda University, an Anaheim-based NAIA program, at home on Wednesday, but that game has been postponed and is being rescheduled. The Highlanders will play in Denver on Sunday.
UCR and Washington had played before, with the Highlanders losing 91-78 early in the 2003-04 season at Seattle. But the Highlanders have now defeated Power Five’s opponents three times in the past four seasons, winning last year at Cal in 2017 and Nebraska.