Allen Huddleston could accept a poor shooting night.
Cold hands are a regular part of basketball.
It was the effort and desire his Merced College women displayed in Wednesday night’s home showdown with NorCal No. 1 and state No. 2 Fresno City College that left the head coach disappointed. The Rams were the aggressors from the opening whistle and ended up blowing the Lady Devils out 62-39 at Don Reid Court.
The victory extended the Rams’ Central Valley Conference unbeaten streak to 63 games and gave them a 2-1 series lead over the NorCal No. 6 Lady Devils this season. The two teams will meet one final time in Fresno on Feb. 1.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well, but I just felt like we really didn’t execute our game plan,” Huddleston said. “Everything they did to us defensively, we had prepared for. We just didn’t stick with it when we saw it in the game.
“At the end of the day, it just felt like Fresno wanted it more.”
Keyora Wharry certainly did.
The FCC sophomore played with an energy and intensity that no one on the court could match. She was a particular handful in the first half, gutting the MC interior for 16 points and 11 rebounds. Wharry (game-high 24 points and 15 rebounds) sparked a 10-0 run that helped Fresno (16-2, 1-0 CVC) build a 24-11 lead midway through the first half.
Sonji Green (team-high 15 points, 10 rebounds) and Trinity Washington (eight points) answered for MC (11-7, 0-1 CVC) as Hulldeston’s squad went into the break down 33-25.
The game was there for the taking in the first 10 minutes of the second half as the Rams hit just 1 of their first 15 shots.
Despite the good defense, the Lady Devils couldn’t cut into the lead. MC shot and ugly 16 of 61 in the game and was just 7 of 26 in the second half. Huddleston’s squad did do a better job of containing Wharry after the break, but the extra attention freed up space for Nina Gregory (23 points).
The Fresno sharpshooter drained seven 3-pointers in the game, including back-to-back 3s that pushed the Rams’ lead to 44-33 with 10:29 to play. It just got worse from there. The Rams closed the game on and 18-6 run to leave no doubt.
Merced College 61, Porterville 58
Blue Devils freshman guard Jermaine Crowder drove down the right wing and laid in the game-winning basket with 14.7 seconds left and DeAndre Davis added an insurance free throw.
The Blue Devils (2-11, 1-0 CVC) drained nine 3s in their second straight win with Aaron Deatherage (22 points) and Crowder (23 points) leading the way.