UC Riverside welcomed students back to campus on Monday at a packed SRC Arena, treating them to free extra basketball with a thrilling 83-78 overtime win over Cal Poly to move into first place in the Big West. The Highlanders are now 6-1 in conference play, the best start in program history.
Monday's win was the seventh straight in the series for UCR, the Highlanders' longest current winning streak over any conference opponent.
"That crowd was electric," UCR Head Coach Mike Magpayo said. "The fans tonight helped us to a win there, no doubt. Playing three league games in six days here and with Cal Poly being rested, we needed all the energy we could get. This team has tremendous poise and connectedness and it showed up again when we were on the ropes a bit there."
UCR used an up-tempo pace to start Monday's contest as the Highlanders got out to an early lead, but were rattled with Cal Poly's hot start from three point range. Lachlan Olbrich and Wil Tattersall drained back-to-back threes to stop the bleeding.
The floodgates continued to open for the Highlanders courtesy of the three ball, as UCR opened up a six-point halftime lead by virtue of a late 8-0 run and a 6-for-11 first-half clip from deep.
Cal Poly again found bursts of momentum in the second half to keep things close, resulting in 10 ties and seven lead changes. When Cal Poly seemed to have found a loophole in the Highlanders' defense, Jamal Hartwell II and Flynn Cameron were there to close the gap.
Hartwell, the reigning Big West Player of the Week, scored 20 of his 23 points after halftime, connecting on clutch threes time and time again. The Inglewood native continued his streak of going over 50 percent for the floor in every Big West game this season.
Cameron led the way with 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Cameron also added six assists and has now logged at least five dimes in four games this season, including his last two.
This was the Highlanders’ their first overtime win of the season and followed a 65-64 win at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night, UCR’s first road win over the Gauchos in program history.
UC Riverside will look to make it five conference wins in a row this Thursday at UC Davis. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.