Alex Larsson scored a career-high 15 points and had 13 rebounds, Brandon Rosser added 13 points as UC Riverside built an early double-digit lead and beat Cal 74-66 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Highlanders returned four starters from last year’s team that won only seven games and were picked to finish eighth in the Big West preseason poll this season but had no problem against the host Golden Bears in Cal coach Wyking Jones’ debut.
Riverside opened the game with a 10-0 run and led by as many as 23 points in the first half while repeatedly breaking Cal’s trapping defense.
The Bears pulled within 62-53 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining before Dikymbe Martin made a short jumper and Dominick Pickett added a 3-pointer to help Riverside pull away.
Martin finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Donald Coleman had a career-high 32 points for California while Kingsley Okoroh — the Bears’ lone returning starter — had five points, 18 rebounds and a career-high seven blocks.
It was the perfect start to the season and a nice litmus test for Dennis Cutts’ team, which won despite having four players foul out. The Highlanders outhustled the Bears most of the night and controlled the paint which allowed them to get off to the fast start and not look back.
The Bears looked very much like a team whose program is starting over. The offense never found a consistent rhythm and committed 11 turnovers that led to 18 points. Marcus Lee, a transfer from Kentucky, scored eight points in his debut.
Riverside returns to Southern California to play at Loyola Marymount on Wednesday. The Highlanders play eight of their 14 non-conference games on the road.
Cal hosts Cal Poly at Haas Pavilion on Sunday afternoon before playing in the Maui Invitational beginning Nov. 16.
CAL WOMEN 87, ST. MARY'S 80
Kristine Anigwe scored 17, Penina Davidson added 10 points and 12 rebounds and Cal beat Saint Mary’s.
The Bears took the lead for good at 74-73 on Mi’Cole Cayton’s 3-pointer with 4:37 left in the game. That sparked a 9-2 run capped at 80-75 by Anigwe’s jumper with 40 seconds left and California made 7 of 8 free throws to secure the win.
Cayton and Mikayla Cowling finished with 13 points each, Asha Thomas scored 12 and Alaysia Styles had 11 for Cal.
Stella Beck had 22 points and eight rebounds to lead Saint Mary’s. Megan McKay added 17, Jasmine Forcadilla 12 and Sydney Raggio had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Gaels had their largest lead after opening the game up 16-9. Cal scored 10 straight to go in front and mostly led from there.