UC Merced men remain ice cold

slynch@mercedsunstar.comNovember 12, 2012 

A cold hand followed the UC Merced men's basketball team home.

A poor shooting display in the first half doomed the Golden Bobcats in a loss to Hope International over the weekend.

UC Merced's return to Hostetler Court didn't change much on Monday night. The Bobcats opened the night just 2 of 10 shooting and things only got marginally better from there.

Throw in a poor defensive showing in the opening 20 minutes and Fresno Pacific was never threatened in an 81-70 victory.

"It looked a lot like the last game," Bobcats head coach John Sykes said. "It's either the first half or the second. I can't really figure it out, but for some reason we can't turn in a full game right now. We got pushed around tonight and, for whatever reason, we didn't push back.

"We didn't fight to get a hand out on the guys around the perimeter and we really didn't guard anybody in the first half."

UC Merced (0-4) compounded their shooting woes by being sloppy with the basketball.

Fresno Pacific (2-2) turned 11 first-half turnovers into easy transition buckets as the Bobcats were consistently beaten down the court.

The Thunderbirds had a hot hand around the arc as well, draining 7 first-half 3-pointers and building a 30-10 lead just over 10 minutes into the game.

Aki Chambers (game-high 28 points and eight rebounds) and Kevin Ellsworth (13 points) tried to rally UCM.

The Bobcats went into the half a with a little momentum after Chambers shook his defender to the court and laid the ball in to trim the lead to 17.

"We just need to fire guys up and get after the ball from the beginning," Chambers said. "We didn't come out with any kind of energy and it cost us. We did a better job defensively in the second half, but we have to stop going down by 20 before we get going."

UC Merced got a little more balance in its offense in the second half. Guys like Ryan Edwards (eight points) and Griffin Alexander (seven) stepped up to complement Chambers. As a result, UCM trimmed the lead to 10 a handful of times. The Bobcats could never get things back to single digits, however.

"That was the toughest part," Sykes said. "We put together some runs. We get a chance to trim it even further and we turn the ball over.

"Or we get the stop we need defensively, but don't get the rebound. Those little things add up."

Fresno Pacific's Malcolm Griffin (19 points) and John Taylor (22 points) helped break the game open with a couple press breaks down the stretch.

UCM is halfway through a run of six games in nine days and will be right back at it on Wednesday night when it travels to Cal State Stanislaus.

FRESNO PACIFIC 81, UC MERCED 70

At Hostetler Court

FRESNO PACIFIC (2-2)-- Antonio Credit 6, Malcolm Griffin 19, Matt Samuels 10, Rickey Vick 9, John Taylor 22, Anthony Brant 4, Zach Kaul 7, Trevon Clayton 4. Totals: 28 17-20 81.

UC MERCED (0-4) -- Ryan Edwards 8, Aki Chambers 28, Martin Harris 2, Michael Yonemoto 4, Kevin Ellsworth 13, Griffin Alexander 7, George Idehen 4, Ahmed Elhendy 2, James Reed 2. Totals: 24 17-22.

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