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Blue Devils beaten again in tight game

Perhaps Saturday's game will mark a turning point in Merced College's season.

Despite the result.

Down 17 points to Northern California No. 13 College of the Sequoias with 10 minutes to play, MC staged a furious comeback.

Merced steadily chipped away at the lead, and backup point guard Dewisely Woods brought the game level at 60-60, hitting a fade-away jumper with 1:40 to play.

But as has been the case all season, the Blue Devils' elation quickly turned to heartbreak.

With a re-energized crowd giving its defense a second wind, MC forced Yunss Akinocho to try a difficult 3-pointer.

The ball clanged hard off of the iron and right into the arms of seldom-used guard Showron Glover.

Glover converted the easy put-back with three tenths of a second remaining, sealing Sequoias' 64-62 victory.

"Our Achilles' heel is slow starts," MC coach Bill Russell said. "I was very pleased with how hard we fought to get back in and tie the game, but we haven't been able to finish these close games off."

The loss was the Blue Devils' fourth straight and ninth in 10 games.

More disheartening than that, MC's last three losses have come by a combined total of eight points.

Saturday also marked the second time in three games that the Blue Devils (1-4 CVC, 6-15 overall) have had to overcome a huge halftime deficit.

A 1-for-10 shooting performance to start the game saw to that.

The Giants' combination of size inside and solid shooters around the perimeter didn't help, either.

With MC giving away upwards of 30 pounds in the post, Sequoias forwards Anthony Jones and Akinocho combined for 27 of the Giants' 40 points.

Sequoias (3-2, 15-7) cruised into the half with a 19-point lead.

"I'm exhausted," MC forward Nate Williams said. "They had guys who were monsters, and I just had to keep banging with them on both sides of the court.

"It's my job, but tonight was definitely tough."

Russell decided to empty his bench with 10 minutes left.

"I got my defensive players into the game," Russell said. "I knew we had to make the game an erratic pace to get them out of their comfort zone."

Led by Williams (13 points) and Julius Cheeks (18 points), MC drained 17 of 18 free throws in the second half.

COS helped out, hitting just 9 of 24 free throws in the game, and just 5 of 17 down the stretch.