Mayo Campo slowly worked her way back into the starting lineup.
The UC Merced freshman guard's quickness and ability to distribute the ball made it tough for women's basketball coach Kevin Pham to keep her out of the lineup.
After a pair of good showings in the Golden Bobcats first two California Pacific Conference games, Campo forced Pham's hand on Thursday night.
She rewarded her coach with a career night.
Campo drained four 3-pointers en route to a career-high 17 points. She also added six assists and three steals to help UC Merced secure its first Cal Pac victory in school history, with a 59-31 thumping of Pacific Union College.
"It was nice to get back into the starting lineup. It had been a little while," Campo said. "I wanted to come out and play with confidence. It helped that some shots fell for me early.
"We've had some good halves of basketball, but have struggled to put together an entire game. It was great to finally do that and get our first conference win."
UC Merced used its defense to set the tone for the game.
With Pacific Union only boasting a roster of seven players, Pham decided to apply a full-court trapping zone.
The Bobcats (1-2 Cal Pac, 2-14) executed it perfectly, forcing more turnovers (17) in the first half than points allowed (12).
"The girls went out and executed our game plan perfectly," Pham said. "Even though both rosters are thin on players, we felt like we could apply full-court pressure throughout the game.
"The idea wasn't to pick up a lot of steals, but force them into some bad passes and create some turnovers. And we were able to do that."
UC Merced's offense put up the first eight points of the game and didn't allow a Pioneers bucket until almost eight minutes into the game.
Shelby Howard (14 points) and Campo combined for 22 of the Bobcats' 29 points as they went into intermission with their biggest lead of the season, 29-12.
Pham reminded his team at halftime that they needed to finish as strongly as they started, but Pacific Union (0-2 Cal Pac, 1-11) found a little more offensive space to open the second half.
After scoring only 12 points in the first half, the Pioneers tallied 14 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Pham called a quick timeout to reignite the team's intensity.
The message hit home as PUC hit just one shot from the field and scored five points the rest of the way.
UC Merced 69, Pacific Union 60
Aki Chambers (game-high 26 points) converted a three-point play with 48 seconds to play that iced the Bobcats second straight Cal Pac victory.
Devin Fountain had a big second half for UC Merced (2-1 Cal Pac, 3-18), scoring all nine of his points and grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds.