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Merced College Lady Devils reclaim the post

Tineka Spencer's freshman season was an eye-opening experience.

Accustomed to dominating opponents at the high school level with sheer size and touch around the rim, the 6-foot-2 Merced College center was often manhandled in the post by stronger, more fit opponents.

"In high school, I was the one who was doing what they were doing to me," Spencer said. "I slacked off a bit as a freshman."

Spencer is making up for lost time.

The sophomore hit the weight room over the summer, improving both her strength and stamina.

The results were evident on Tuesday night against Sacramento City.

Sac City had no answer for Spencer (12 points) inside and the Lady Devils cruised to a 62-47 victory.

"Tineka worked very hard in the offseason," MC coach Allen Huddleston said. "Its been a blessing for us, because this year we have a post presence and it allows us to run our half-court set much more smoothly."

Smooth is the perfect word to describe the Lady Devils' offense in the first half.

Fresh off winning the Shasta College Invitational over the weekend -- the school's first tournament title in three years -- Huddleston was concerned about a letdown.

There was no need for concern.

Aariona Breazell (team-high 14 points) and Tiara Dunson (12 points) joined Spencer with hot hands as Merced College built a 44-29 lead at the half.

The Lady Devils (6-4) weren't bad defensively, either, forcing 24 turnovers in their fifth straight win.

MC has allowed just 44 points per game during that streak.

"They were just so excited after winning the tournament, that I was worried we'd come out a little flat," Huddleston said. "Instead, they were pumped up.

"I was really pleased."

at Merced College

SACRAMENTO CITY -- Janie Hironaka 14, Stephanie Lee 5, Chelsie Eugene 1, Rachel Montes 7, Treshenia Solomon 12, Monique Jennings 4, Patricia Cunningham 2, Astrid Lord 2. Totals 19 5-14 47.

MERCED COLLEGE -- Tiara Dunson 12, Patricia O'Neill 4, Tanisha White 3, Tineka Spencer 12, Anna Yardy 2, Keyonna McKibbens 6, Aariona Breazell 14, Olivia Andam 1, Laura Robinson 6. Totals 22 13-19 62.

3-pointers: Sacramento 4 (Hironaka 2, Lee, Jennings), Merced College 5 (McKibbens 2, Breazell 2, Dunson). Total Fouls: Sacramento 16, Merced College 13; Fouled Out: Sacramento (Collette Eugene); Technicals: Merced College (Coach Allen Huddleston).

Records: Sacramento City 3-6; Merced College 6-4