Fall campaigns underway; fans look to basketball openings

Schedules are ongoing for many fall sports, with excitement building for the men’s and women’s basketball seasons, which begin later this fall and come on the heels of impressive 2021-22 campaigns for both. Following are early season reviews and pre-season previews for UC Riverside’s fall sports teams.

All ticket purchases for UCR Athletics home events must be made online. Home games are free for UCR students with an R’Card.

Men’s basketball

Coach Mike Magpayo is welcoming eight new players to the team this season, making it the best men’s team ever, he said. Among those players are four freshmen – Nate Pickens, Lachlan Olbrich, Kaleb Smith, and Barrington Hargress. There are also four new transfers into the team – Kyle Owens, Luke Turner, Jamal Hartwell II and Vlad Salaridze. Returning players include point guard Zyon Pullin and shooting guard Flynn Cameron, in addition to Wil Tattersall, Jhaylon Martinez, Niyi Olabode and Kobe Jerome.

Zyon Pullin is among the returning starters in men’s basketball. Photo/Stan Lim

Magpayo describes the team as a tight-knit group of young men who are focused and prepared for a challenging journey this year.

The Highlanders will face a challenging schedule this season, said Magpayo. The team will play two PAC 12 teams, Colorado and Oregon, one Big East Team, Creighton and three WCC teams, including Loyola Marymount University, University of San Diego and University of Portland.

Magpayo said the team became a force with wins this past season over PAC 12 foes Washington and Arizona State

The team has enjoyed three consecutive winning seasons and defeated every Big West team at least once since Magpayo joined the program, the last two years as head coach. Their The team’s goal now is to win a Big West championship, Magpayo said.

“We are looking to make the jump from good to great,” said Magpayo. “We have the experience and size to do it, now we have to go to work and build this thing brick by brick.”

The men’s season begins Oct. 28.

Women’s basketball

The Highlanders won eight of their last nine games and made it to the semi-final round for the Big West Conference tournament last season, under Coach Nicole Powell. The team will face a challenging schedule this season as it looks to advance to the Big West Conference tournament.

Top Returning Scorer is Matehya Bryant, who averaged 6.5 points per game last season. Also returning are India Aikins, Rose Morse, Jordan Webster, Anna Blount, Mele Finau, Esther Matarranz, RyAnne Walters. Newcomers include Zoe Tillery, Sasha Murphy, Julia Stenberg, Sierra Logue, Jordyn Marshall and Paris Atchley.

“We are really looking forward to the season and matching up against great opponents,” Powell said. “We have a challenging non-conference schedule and expect to be tested a great deal. I expect our team to grow a great deal from these experiences and this should prepare us well for conference play.”

The season begins November 7.

Men’s cross-country

There are six meets this season, including three at UCR’s Ag/Ops Course, among them the Big West Championships on Oct. 29.
The Highlanders began the fall season on Sept. 1 at the Nevada Twilight. The annual UC Riverside Invitational was on Sept. 17, in which the men finished third. A record-1,354 spectators gathered at the Ag/Ops Course to watch over 1,100 student-athletes compete.
UCR has two remaining away meets. The team will travel to South Bend, Ind., for the Joe Piane Invitational Hosted by Notre Dame, and the John Elders Titan Invite at Cal State Fullerton.

NCAA West Regionals are in Seattle on Nov. 11 in Seattle followed by the national championships on Nov. 19 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Men’s Golf

The season started Sept. 26 at the Nick Watney Invitational Hosted by Fresno State. Men’s golf will compete in three tournaments this fall in California under head Coach Mary Ritchie. Returning is All-Big West Honorable Mention selection Josh Hu with a record of 70-69-139.

Men’s Soccer

The Highlanders had a 9-7-3 record this past year and will encounter a few first-time opponents this season. The team will complete an early season cross-country trip to Florida.

The team has faced a trio of scrimmages including with UC Berkeley, Cal State LA and Concordia Irvine that started Aug. 12. Since then, the team has played Utah Valley, St. Thomas, Jacksonville, Central Florida, Stetson, San Diego, Loyola Marymount and California Baptist University for a current season record of 1-5-2.

The next Big West opponent is Cal State Northridge on Sept. 28, followed by games with UC Davis, UCSD, UC Irvine, Cal Poly SLO and Sacramento State, among others.

Leopoldo Hernandez, a returning Highlander midfielder from Sacramento, was named Preseason All-Big West this season.

All-Big West honorees returning from last season also include Freymar Omarsson, Oscar Penate, and Carlos Gonzalez.

Women’s cross-country
Collette Lowengrub

Collette Lowengrub, pictured in a 2021 home meet, led the Women’s cross country team to a first-place finish at the Nevada Twilight on Sept. 1. Photo/Stan Lim

The season began on Sept. 1. Collette Lowengrub captured the individual title at the Nevada Twilight on Sept. 1 to open the season and UCR women finished first as a team.

Women finished sixth at the UC Riverside Invitational on September 17, as a record-1,354 spectators gathered at the Ag/Ops Course to watch more than 1,100 student-athletes compete.

Women’s golf

UC Riverside won individual titles in both tournaments it has competed in this season. Tiffany Le took first at the Hobble Creek Classic and Kate Villegas took second, while Villegas won at the Coeur D’Alene Resort Invitational.

Women’s soccer

The Women’s Highlanders season began Aug. 11 and with a past season’s record of 4-11-2. The team is 2-2-6 this season.

Alex Hargrave has six goals so far this year, currently ranking 25th in Division I and second in the Big West. Hargrave was also named Big West Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 12.

Seven current Highlanders from last year’s Squad were among the 14 named Big West All-Academic last season.

The team has two Big West new transfers this season: McKenzie Moore from Hawaii and Chelsee Duran from CSU Bakersfield.

Three current Highlanders represented Puerto Rico at this summer’s CONCACAF W Qualifiers: head Coach Nat Gonzalez, Daphane Mendez and Jazmine Mendez. Gonzalez was named head coach last September for Puerto Rico’s national women’s team.

Women’s volleyball

The season started Aug. 26 for the Highlanders with a past season’s record of 6-24. This year, the team is 2-9.

Nicky Cannon is in her first year as head coach at UCR. She is the fourth head coach in program history.

UCR welcomes a Veteran transfer in BYU’s Tayler Hifo, who has already recorded the Big West’s first volleyball triple double since 2018 (10 kills, 17 digs, 51 assists vs. Idaho State on Sept. 10). UC Riverside also has two more Division I transfers this season: Shannon Dunkin from Siena and Hunter Thomas from Idaho State.

Story by Julia Woock

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