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Change in plans: Merced College hosts Rams today

A scheduling snafu has put Allen Huddleston and his Merced College women's basketball team in a familiar situation.

The Lady Devils (4-0 Central Valley Conference, 14-11) were supposed to travel to Fresno City for their first meeting and then host the defending CVC champions on the final day of the regular season.

With the CVC title likely being on the line that night, Huddleston was counting on the home-court advantage.

Apparently, it wasn't meant to be.

The conference schedule maker made an error, and for the second year in a row, MC will have to close the season in Fresno.

It makes today's contest at home against the Rams a virtual must-win.

Tip-off is set for 5 p.m., with the MC men battling Sequoias at 7.

"We definitely don't want to have to be going into the last week of February needing to get a win in Fresno," Huddleston said. "We were in this same scenario a year ago and couldn't get it done."

A year later, both teams' rosters have had their share of turnover, but one thing remains the same: the Lady Devils and Rams (4-0, 22-6) are the class of the CVC.

"They're a really good team that comes after you," MC guard Tiara Dunson said. "We know we have to play a 40-minute game if we want to win."

Maintaining their intensity for a whole game has proven difficult for the Lady Devils.

Wednesday's contest against Reedley was the latest example of a mid-game lull that almost coast MC.

Ironically, Huddleston said the close victory may prove to be a blessing in disguise.

"What stood out the most was in an intense situation, nobody panicked," Huddleston said.

MC will need that poise against a team like Fresno City, which likes to create havoc with its press.

"They're going to get after our guards," Huddleston said. "If we can get the ball up the court and take advantage of our size, we're going to have a good chance."