It wasn't too long ago a cold night around the perimeter would have made for a long evening for the Golden Valley boys basketball team.
But Keith Hunter's squad has matured and adapted as the season has worn on.
When it became apparent that shots just wouldn't be falling at Cougar Arena on Friday night, GV went to Plan B.
The Cougars used a stout defensive effort to get out on transition and attacked the Merced basket when in their half-court sets.
It helped GV build an 11-point lead at intermission, and with the Bears equally cold from the field, the Cougars cruised to a comfortable 50-36 victory.
The win completed a perfect 10-0 run through the Central California Conference season and tied the team for the school's all-time best regular-season record at 23-4.
The feat was also achieved in 2004-05, 2008-09 and 2010-2011.
"I think Merced's a pretty good defensive team," GV head coach Keith Hunter said. "They might be the most battle-tested team in the league with all their close games, so you expect it's going to be a defensive grind.
"I thought we did a good job defensively. We forced some turnovers and it helped lead to some transition points. And we did a better job rebounding in the second half, which I think allowed us to pull away.
"I can't remember the last time someone went undefeated in league. Hopefully we've earned a high seed and we can get in the playoffs and win a game or two."
GV looked playoff poised in a game in which it shot just 33 percent from the field and 20 percent from beyond the arc.
Travante Richard (team-high 14 points and 11 rebounds) got Merced off to a good start, scoring 10 of the Bears' 12 points in the opening quarter.
The Cougar defense clamped down after that. Merced turned the ball over 16 times in the game and hit just eight shots from the field the rest of the way.
The only one who could consistently seem to find a stroke was GV's Evan Stillahn (game-high 24 points). The junior guard had nine points in the second quarter as the Cougars outscored the Bears (2-8 CCC, 8-19) 18-6 and took a 29-18 lead into intermission.
"We played really good defense, which was big because it got us some easy baskets when our shots weren't falling," Stillahn said. "We got a lot of guys that are capable of contributing in a lot of different ways, and I think you saw that tonight with us still finding a way to win."
Merced made a small run in the third quarter.
Jeremy Busko (nine points) hit a 3 and followed with a layup to trim the lead to 33-27.
Golden Valley closed out the quarter with an 8-0 and Merced never threatened again.