UC Riverside’s men’s and women’s basketball teams enter the Big West tournament this week, both propelled by winning streaks. The tournament is held in the new Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nevada.
The women’s team (15-10, 10-6), led by coach Nicole Powell, has won eight straight games with its quarterfinal round win yesterday over fifth-seeded UCSB, 46-42. With the win, the fourth-seeded Highlanders will advance to the semi-finals on Friday, March 11, where they will take on top-ranked Hawaii at 12:00 p.m. on ESPN+.
Keilanei Cooper, the program's all-time leader in games played, was named All-Big West First Team after ranking in the top 15 in conference play in scoring and top 10 in steals. She led the Highlanders in points per game this year, averaging 13.1. Jada Holland, who ranked in the Big West top five for assists and assist/turnover ratio, earned Honorable Mention. She has averaged 11.5 points per game.
For the sixth-seeded men’s team (16-11, 9-6) action begins today against third-seeded Hawaii (16-10, 10-5). The men have won four of their last six headed into the Big West Tournament as part of a 2021-22 campaign that saw the team win its most-ever conference games since becoming a Division I program more than 20 years ago.
The men’s team has had three consecutive winning seasons under head coach Mike Magpayo. In the past three years, the men’s team has climbed almost 300 places, to No. 19 in the NCAA, in defensive rebounding.
Dominick Pickett was named the Big West Best Hustle Player for the second consecutive year, also earning honorable mention. Earlier this season, he became the program’s all-time leader in games played. He ranks fifth in the conference with 1.48 steals per game and sixth with 1.92 three-pointers per game.
Callum McRae also earned honorable mention after leading the conference in double doubles and defensive rebounding (168). Zyon Pullin earned All-Big West Second Team, following a season in which he led the conference with 4.3 assists per game, averaging 15.3 points per game in Big West play and 14 points per game overall.