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Bear Cubs come back fall short against host Merced

Bear Cubs come back fall short against host Merced

SRJC 46, Merced 53


            The Bear Cubs opened the 2016-17 campaign on the road at the Merced College Tournament against the host team. Meme Nicolis scored the first basket of the game on the Bear Cubs' second possession, but the Blue Devils quickly tied the game. The Bear Cubs missed their next four shots before Sadie Irvine and Ashley Hart each sank one to give them a 7-2 lead halfway through the 10-minute quarter. The Blue Devils responded with a 3-pointer by Jordan Pierce. The Bear Cubs only attempted three more shots in the quarter with LaDonna Saint Louis sinking the final one with 26 seconds on the clock to end the period ahead 10-9.

            LaDonna Saint Louis started the scoring in the second quarter with two free throws. The Bear Cubs didn't score again until Destiny Grayer swished a 3-pointer at the 5:41 mark for a 15-11 lead. The Blue Devils countered with a 12-0 run to jump out in front 23-15. Meme Nicolis tallied the final two points of the quarter for the Bear Cubs on free throws with 1:24 left, as the Bear Cubs went into halftime behind 17-25.

            The Bear Cubs began the second half with the ball and Tiffany Salinas slid in to bank in a close shot. Salinas hit another shot 67 seconds later to cut the gap to 21-27. Zaina Depina's 3-pointer a minute later put the score at 24-29. Two free throws each by Sadie Irvine and Zaina Depina and Salinas' field goal reduced the deficit to 30-31 with 5:40 on the clock. The Bear Cubs missed their next four shots. Meanwhile their opponents drew shooting fouls to lengthen their margin to 35-30. The hosts scored their final two point of the quarter on a field goal with 1:35 left. Tiffany Salinas made her fourth field goal of the period 29 seconds later, and the score at the end of the third period showed the host team on top 37-33.

            Meme Nicolis scored the first three points of the final quarter on a field goal and one of two free throws, to pull her team within a single point, 36-37. Jordan Pierce got the crowd cheering with her third 3-pointer of the contest with 8:02 on the clock. The Blue Devils added a field goal and Meme Nicolis matched it. Pierce's fourth 3-pointer 12 seconds later stretched her team's advantage to 45-38. The Blue Devils' Samantha James scored on a putback, then Zaina Depina scored on a drive with 5:28 left. Two free throws each by Ashley Hart and Sadie Irvine cut the gap to 44-49 with 1:37 remaining. The Bear Cubs were below the foul limit, so they started fouling. Then when the Blue Devils finally got to the line to shoot free throws, the shooter missed the first and a teammate was called for a violation prior to the second, nullifying the opportunity to shoot one more. Sadie Irvine scored for the Bear Cubs with 28 seconds remaining, making the score 46-49. The Bear Cubs fouled almost immediately. The shooter made the first and missed the second, but a teammate grabbed the offensive rebound. The Blue Devils went to the line again with 12 seconds on the clock. She made the first, missed the second, but in the battle for the rebound, the ball went out of bounds last touched by a Bear Cub. The home team inbounded and the Bear Cubs fouled. This time the shooter made both with 11 seconds to play. The Bear Cubs were unable to score, as the hosts claimed the 53-46 victory.

            During the first half the Bear Cubs committed 17 turnovers and made just 5 out of 21 shots (24%). The Blue Devils made 8 out of 29 shots (38%) and committed 13 turnovers. In the second half the Bear Cubs turned the ball over 7 times and made 9 out of 29 shots (31%). The Bear Cubs' defensive pressure forced their opponents into 11 turnovers. The hosts made 8 out of 26 shots (31%).

            Jordan Pierce of Merced led all scorers with 14 points. The Bear Cubs were led in scoring by Sadie Irvine with 10 points. Post players Tiffany Salinas and Meme Nicolis each totaled 9 points. Zaina Depina contributed 7 points, Ashley Hart and LaDonna Saint Louis 4 each, and Destiny Grayer 3. Sadie Irvine also led with 7 rebounds and 6 steals. Zaina Depina passed for 3 assists.