The Highlanders men’s and women’s basketball programs enter the 2021-22 season under the banner of “great expectations.” This will mark both teams’ 20th year in the Big West Conference.
The men’s team finished last season 13-7, and 8-4 in Big West play. The team registered its highest Big West Tournament seed in program history at three before securing the program's first tournament win in 10 years with a 62-52 victory over Hawaii in the quarterfinal round.
The men’s team has been picked third this year in Big West Preseason Coaches' and Media Polls. The men’s 32-game schedule began Nov. 9 at 2021 Mountain West regular season champion San Diego State, concluding on March 5 at Long Beach State. After winning an Oct. 30 exhibition 90-56 against Cal State LA, the Highlanders dropped their regular-season opener at SDSU 66-53.
"This schedule gives us ample opportunity to build on the new standard we set for ourselves last season," head coach Mike Magpayo said. "Our combination of high-level talent against high-level opponents will help us continue our upward trajectory as a program. It will be a special treat for the fans who get to see us in person again."
The men will play 16 of their 32 contests at Student Recreation Center, or SRC, Arena this winter, including homecoming on Nov. 20 against Bethesda and the Crosstown Showdown with California Baptist on Dec. 12. SRC seating will be at 50% capacity, in adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols.
The men’s team is led by Zyon Pullin, a sophomore entering his second season at UC Riverside after averaging 12.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and a team-high 4.5 assists this past season. He won two Big West Player of the Week honors and Honorable Mention on the Big West All-Conference Team.
The women’s team, led by coach Nicole Powell, began its 30-game season Nov. 5 at the SRC with a resounding 83-42 exhibition win over Whittier College. Cal Baptist scraped by the Highlanders in their Nov. 9 regular-season opener, the Crosstown Showdown, 62-59.
"What I like about this group is their enthusiasm for each other,” Powell said. “Even in shoot-around, they are excited to be together, they are excited to play, and they care about each other."
This past season, the women’s team posted a 7-11 overall record, and a conference record of 5-9.
After the conference season concludes, the men’s and women’s teams will head to the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nevada for the Big West Tournament.
Tickets for all home games can be purchased online at GoHighlanders.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.