Junior forward Taylor Johns had a career-high-tying 31 points and 13 rebounds, leading UC Riverside to a 68-63 victory over visiting Morgan State on Tuesday at SRC Arena in Riverside, Calif.
Junior guard Jaylen Bland had 18 points, six rebounds and five assists for UC Riverside (7-5). Senior forward Steve Thornton scored 12 points.
Senior guard Blake Bozeman scored 13 points to lead Morgan State (2-12). Junior forward Cedric Blossom and sophomore guard Torrin Childs-Harris scored 11 points apiece.
Morgan State started the game with an 11-0 run over the first 3:15 of the contest. UC Riverside committed five turnovers before Johns scored the team’s first basket with 15:52 to play in the opening period. Johns cut the deficit to six on a dunk with 14:18 to go, but the Bears responded with a 13-2 run to take a 26-9 lead with 7:57 remaining.
Morgan State led 37-24 at the break despite a huge first half from Johns, who had 18 points and seven rebounds. The Bears shot just 37.1 percent from the field but held the Highlanders to 35.7 percent shooting, amassed a 24-19 rebounding advantage and forced 11 turnovers.
UC Riverside stormed back in the second period, outscoring Morgan State 13-6 over the first 3:30 to cut the deficit to six. The Highlanders got within four on a couple of occasions before freshman guard Jamar Redmond converted a four-point play to put the Bears up 52-43 with 12:41 to go.
The Highlanders battled back again, tying the game at 57-57 with 6:39 remaining before taking a 59-57 lead with 3:41 to play. The Bears trailed 64-60 when Redmond made a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left, cutting the deficit to one, but a layup by Johns helped the Highlanders secure the victory.
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