Points haven't come easy for the UC Merced women's basketball team.
Head coach Kevin Pham has pieced together a roster of hard workers, but not a lot of pure shooters.
It's why the Golden Bobcats average 56 shots per game, but only 54 points. The team's shooting woes also put a lot of pressure on its defense, with any kind of major runs blowing the game open.
That was the case on Sunday night at Hostetler Court.
A good defensive effort in the last 10 minutes of the opening half had UC Merced in the game, down just eight at intermission. Pacific quickly changed that, opening the second-half with a 9-0 run. The Bobcats never got back within single digits in a 63-44 loss.
“It didn't matter what set we were in, our biggs couldn't finish tonight,” Pham said. “And then we moved the ball well and got some good looks beyond the arc and we couldn't knock those down either.
“The last three games, we've really struggled to score. Thank god for our defense stepping up and giving us a fighting chance. “We just don't have a lot of kids who can knock down shots and that puts a lot of pressure on the ones that can.”
Using its size advantage to create mismatches and crash the offensive glass, Pacific raced out to an 18-8 lead 10 minutes into the game.
The Bobcats (1-7) countered with an increase in defensive intensity, limiting the Boxers (6-0) to just two buckets from the field in the last 10 minutes of the first half. UC Merced couldn't fully take advantage, however, only outscoring Pacific 11-9 during the span.
Shelby Howard did her best to keep the Bobcats in it, scoring nine of her game-high 17 points in the first half. Her teammates could only come up with 10 more.
“We're just trying to make the right decisions and execute what coach is asking us to,” Howard said. “Sometimes we can get a little conservative, but that's part of being a young team. “We need to continue to learn from these situations and try not to make the same mistakes next time.”
Heather Hitch (eight points) and Paige Jensen (team-high 12 points, 10 rebounds and four steals) helped put the game away early in the second half, each scoring four points in Pacific's 9-0 run.
Samantha Oshiro added seven points for the Bobcats and Kayla Polman chipped in eight.
Men's Basketball Hope International 82, UC Merced 63
Orlando Collins dominated the Bobcats with 27 points and 21 rebounds in a Hope International rout.
Kevin Ellsworth and Michael Yonemoto each paced UC Merced (0-11) with 11 points in the loss.
Lassen 77, Merced College 48
STOCKTON – The Blue Devils trailed just three at the half, but ran out of gas down the stretch with a consolation bracket loss to Lassen in the Delta Tournament.
PREPS GIRLS BASKETBALL
Buhach Colony 65, Elliot Christian 22
LE GRAND – Jessica Silva followed up her career-high 30-point performance on Friday night with 18 more to help Buhach Colony win the Le Grand Holiday Shootout title with a rout of Elliot Christian. Allison Wisdom added 12 points and Taj Seals poured in 10.