Second Half Skid Dooms DU vs. UC Riverside (54-63)

A brutal start to the second half allowed the home team to build an insurmountable lead and the visiting Pioneers (8-5) fell to the University of California - Riverside/UCR (8-5) Highlanders Tuesday night.

DU traveled to Riverside California Tuesday night to play their final non-conference tune-up game. Riverside was coming off two straight wins while DU was trying to shake off a lopsided home loss to Eastern Washington. The Highlanders were led by senior forward Taylor Johns with 16.0 points  and 9.6 rebounds per game along with their leading scorer, senior guard Jaylen Bland at 17.0 points per game for the season. The challenge for the Pioneers was to shut down this duo and their high-octane offense which was scoring 74.9 points per game - 8.9 points per game better than their opponents.

As  the game played out, DU could not stop the senior duo. Jaylen Bland administered the damage in the first half and Taylor Johns put the hammer down the second half to put the game away.

The Pioneers desperately needed freshmen forward C.J. Bobbitt 6'7" back on the floor. In the prior contest, Eastern Washington exposed DU's lack of depth up-front. Ideally, the Pioneer's needed to give Bobbitt some minutes before conference games start in January. Unfortunately, he could not answer the bell.  DU missed his creativity, size, and inside scoring touch.

In the first half, DU held close. A cold shooting start by both teams knotted the score at 4 in the first several minutes. A Jaylen Bland 3-point play and 2 point basket took the score to 9-4, Highlanders. DU's Thomas Neff nailed a big 3 to to cut the deficit to 9-7. The teams were tied at 12 with a Pemberton steal and bucket. After exchanging buckets, the score moved to 16 all at 8:35. Denver took their first lead at 6:40 - 18-16. DU dropped down by 3, 21-18, with a Jaylen Bland bomb at the 4:35 mark. Another Riverside three took the margin to 6.  Bryant Rucker countered with a DU tray to close the deficit to 3 with one minute remaining in the first half. A Highlander charging call gave DU the ball and another Nate Engesser 3 pointer tied the game with 26 seconds to go at 26 all. With time running out in the half, Riverside hit a  3 from the corner, giving the Highlanders a 3-point lead at half 29-26. Both teams shot 52% from the field. UCR shot 30% from 3 point arc with DU at 37.5%. DU trailed 15-8 on rebounds but the Pioneers led in steals by 1. Jaylen Bland lit up the Pioneers for 14 points in the first half. Nate Engesser countered with 7.

In the second half, a 10-0 Highlander opening run and cold DU shooting, moved the Riverside lead to 13 points, 28-41. During that stretch, DU was held scoreless for more than 6 minutes on 0-5 shooting. The lead ballooned to 15 points - led by seniors Jaylen Bland with 18 points and  Taylor Johns 14 points. The remainder of the second half, the Highlanders lead stayed in the double digits until Jake Pemberton hit a bucket to make it an 8 point deficit, 56-46, with 3:30 remaining. That was the closest DU could get for the remainder of the game. A final bucket-and-one by Christian Mackey made the final score 54-63.

Joe Rosga had 11 points and Nate Engesser chipped in 10 points. DU was out rebounded again, 30-19. The Pioneers committed an uncharacteristic 17 turnovers and shot 40% from the field in the second half. Nine of ten players had double-digit minutes on the floor - led as usual by Freshman Joe Rosga with 36 minutes.

This concludes the second quarter of the schedule for the 8-5 Pioneers. As promised, LetsGoDU will be releasing a 2nd quarter analysis of  the team's progress tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

DU may have "desperately needed" Bobbitt underneath, but he's missed the last seven (?) games. What is Scott doing to compensate? What about DU's other big men? Based on past seasons Summit League teams all boost big players. South Dakota State (10-3) is up next for DU: 6-10, 6-9, 6-9, 6-8, etc.

Anonymous said...

December has been a forgettable month for all DU sports. Let's hope January brings about better performances from all DU teams.

Dunker said...

Yes, A December to forget. Looking forward to the 2nd half analysis of our Summit League prospects.
I wish you would have a contest where the fans pick how many games we will win in Summit play. The winner could get to spend a day with Joe Scott where he reveals the name of his barber and dry cleaner.