Alexander: Highlanders, showing signs of life, beat CSUN

By in Press Enterprise on February 15, 2018

By Jim Alexander

NORTHRIDGE — This is UC Riverside’s 17th season of Big West men’s basketball competition.

In that time, the Highlanders have missed the conference’s post-season tournament five times. The first year, 2002, they were completing their transition from Division II and weren’t eligible. In 2013, they weren’t eligible because of APR issues. In 2003, 2005 and 2010, they simply weren’t good enough, finishing out of the top eight.

They are determined not to make it six.

Step one was Wednesday night here, against the team directly above them in the standings. The Highlanders trailed Cal State Northridge 42-33 with just under 14 minutes to play … and then ripped off an 18-0 run, taking a 51-42 lead and holding on for a 69-62 triumph.

It enabled the Highlanders to pull within a half game of CSUN in the battle for the last tournament spot. UCR is now 2-9 in the Big West and 7-18 overall, to CSUN’s 3-9 and 6-20.

It has also won two out of its last three following a 10-game losing streak, one that included a coaching change, an 0-8 start in conference, a couple of key absences from the lineup and some excruciatingly close losses.

“We’re amped up,” center Alex Larsson said. “But we’ve been amped up all season. We’re staying the course and working hard, and when you do stuff’s going to go your way.”

One explanation: The entire gang is back together.

Dikymbe Martin, in his second game back following a six-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules, scored 18 points in 24 minutes, including a pair of three-point baskets that punctuated that 18-0 run. And he showed some impressive chemistry when he was on the floor with Koh Flippin, the walkon guard who contributed five points but four assists and four steals in 23 minutes.

Larsson, regaining his form after being […]    

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