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UC Riverside’s aggressive style missing in basketball loss to Portland State

By in Press Enterprise on November 19, 2017

By George Alfano

RIVERSIDE — The aggressiveness displayed by UC Riverside in last week’s season-opening victory against Cal simply didn’t show up Saturday as the Highlanders fell to Portland State 94-82.

The statistic which showed the clear difference in aggressive play was Portland State’s 23 offensive rebounds compared to nine for UC Riverside. The Big Sky Conference team forced turnovers in the backcourt and scored easy baskets.

The Highlanders (1-2) kept making runs to narrow the margin, but the closest they got in the second half was when Ajani Kennedy’s 3-pointer with 2:24 remaining cut Portland State’s lead to 85-79.

“Our guard play backed down to their attack,” fifth-year UCR coach Dennis Cutts said. “We didn’t handle the challenge well. We will be talking about rebounding and taking care of the ball.”

The “it was that type of night” sequence came with a little more than 12 minutes remaining in the second half when the Vikings led by eight points.

Chance Murray made a steal and drove to the rim for a dunk. He missed the dunk. After Portland State rebounded, Bryce Canda, who led all scorers with 20 points, hit a 3-pointer for what was a five-point turnaround. “That was a big play,” Cutts said.

Portland State (3-0) applied a press for the entire game. UC Riverside had handled the press well against Cal, and the Highlanders were reasonably successful against the Vikings’ pressure early in the game.

Things changed with six minutes remaining in the first half when Portland State had an 13-2 run to take a 37-27 advantage on Deontae North’s 3-point shot. North, who was a Riverside County Player of the Year while at Corona Centennial, had 15 points and 30 friends and family members at the game.

“I was happy to play with DK (UCR sophomore Dikymbe Martin) again,” North said. Martin, who had 15 points […]    

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