Menlo holds off UC Merced men

01/27/2013 10:20 PM

09/11/2014 1:15 PM

Griffin Alexander played all of four seconds on Saturday night.

But with the game on the line, the UC Merced junior got the game's biggest shot.

The Golden Bobcats trailed by three points with 3.6 seconds remaining and Alexander was the first player to come open on UCM's inbound play. Alexander caught the ball on the left wing and had time to turn toward the basket.

There was considerable contact with a Menlo defender on the play, but the referees let it go and Aexander's bid to force overtime fell short. The relieved Oaks then sprinted off the court, having held on for a 76-73 victory at Hostetler Court.

"The play was designed to go to the first person that got open," Golden Bobcats head coach John Sykes said. "It wasn't a bad look, but it looked a lot like a foul. Two years in and we still can't get calls on our home court.

"It's frustrating because we had it. We could have taken the lead a number of times, but just couldn't hold onto the ball. These are the kinds of games we need to figure out a way to get it done. We need to understand what we're doing and find a way to do it right."

It was a tough loss for Merced (4-19, 3-2 California Pacific Conference) after it spent all game battling back. The Oaks (6-14, 2-3 Cal Pac) never trailed and led by as many as 12 points in the second half.

But the Bobcats wouldn't go away.

Javon Barrino (16 points) hit back-to-back 3-pointers and added two free throws to pull UCM within 68-67 with five minutes to play.

The Bobcats pulled even with the Oaks three times down the stretch, but could never push ahead.

The final chance came with 1:24 to play, when Michael Yonemoto tipped in an offensive rebound to tie the game at 73.

Menlo went back on top on a John Smith free throw with 44.2 seconds to play. UC Merced never got a shot off on its ensuing possession as Menlo forced a jump ball.

Smith hit two more free throws to make it 76-73 Oaks with 19.1 seconds to play before the the Bobcats again fumbled the ball around and were forced to burn a timeout after wasting precious seconds. Menlo opted to foul George Idehen on the entry pass, putting the guard at the line with 5.6 seconds left.

Idehen missed the first shot and was forced to intentionally miss the second. He did and the Bobcats got the rebound to set up Alexander's last-second heave.

"I just think our offense got off to a slow start and so we never had the confidence to get the lead," Barrino said. "We put ourselves at the top of the league when we beat Maritime and you could see how excited Menlo was to beat us.

"We've shown we have what it takes to win the conference, but we need to be prepared for teams giving us their best games now. We have only ourselves to blame tonight."

Menlo jumped out to an early lead with its outside-inside game.

ChaRunn Jones (game-high 18 points) hit four of his five 3-pointers in the first half. Once UC Merced began honoring Menol's outside shooting ability by extending the defense, the Oaks went inside to center Keith Bowman, who contributed 15 points and five rebounds off the bench.

The Bobcats answered by driving to the basket.

Aki Chambers (team-high 17 points) hit all seven of his shots from the field and Martin Harris added 15 points for UCM.

Sequoias 75, Merced College 44

Tyler Trammell hit three 3-pointers en route to a team-high 11 points and James Waters added 10 points, but the Blue Devils couldn't keep pace with the Giants. Gurpreet Sangha had nine points and a team-high four rebounds for MC (0-16, 0-5 Central Valley Conference).

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Merced College 57, Sequoias 48

Sonji Green's team-high 13 points and Rogenee Russell's 12 points and nine rebounds helped the Lady Devils win their fourth straight game and grab sole possession of second place in the CVC. Jasmin Barnett chipped in 10 points for MC (12-9, 4-1 CVC).

No. 23 Menlo 73, UC Merced 54

Shelby Howard scored a team-high 16 points, but UC Merced couldn't recover from a tough offensive first half against Menlo. Kayla Polman had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Bobcats (1-4 Cal Pac, 2-16) and Leticia Oceguera added nine points and five assists.

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