SRJC 52, Merced 79
The Bear Cubs opened the season in the first round of the Merced College Tournament against the host Blue Devils. The previous week the Blue Devils won the San Joaquin Delta Tournament, averaging 82.3 points per game. Against the Bear Cubs the Blue Devils sank a 3-pointer on their first possession and followed it with a shot near the basket to jump out to a 5-0 lead in 36 seconds. Maddie Strom's 8-footer three minutes into the game got the Bear Cubs on the scoreboard. The Blue Devils answered with a field goal for a 7-2 margin. Shayla Newman's 2-footer with 5:32 on the clock was the Bear Cubs' last basket of the quarter, making the deficit 4-7. The hosts dominated the remainder of the period, outscoring the Bear Cubs 15-1 to take a 22-5 lead.
The Blue Devils started the second period with the ball and scored from inside the key. Maiya Flores and Lilly Orozco scored back-to-back baskets for the Bear Cubs. Maddie Strom's baseline 10-footer with 7:01 on the clock made their deficit 11-28. On the Bear Cubs' next possession, Jasmine Henderson drew a foul on a drive and made both free throws. At the 5:11 mark Orozco drew a shooting foul and made one of two free throws. During the next 3:37 Henderson, DJ Hayes, and Cammie Barsuglia each scored a field goal, making the score 20-42. Maiya Flores drained a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to make the halftime score 23-42.
The Blue Devils started the third quarter with the ball and hit a 3-pointer. Seventy-two seconds later Britta Irvine sank her only basket, a 3-pointer. The Blue Devils added four unanswered field goals before Flores scored on a drive with 3:10 on the clock. The Blue Devils then swished a 3-pointer. Flores and Strom each added a field goal before the Blue Devils hit another 3-pointer. Henderson's driving basket with 46 seconds left accounted for the final points of the period, making the score 34-59.
The Bear Cubs had the ball to start the fourth quarter and Shayla Newman dropped in a shot from inside the key. The Blue Devils went on an 11-0 run before Maiya Flores sank her second 3-pointer of the game with 6:33 left. During the remainder of the contest, the Bear Cubs outscored their hosts 13-9 on field goals by Henderson, Strom, and Hayes, 3-pointers by Hayes and Barsuglia, and one free throw by Hayes. The 52-79 loss drops the Bear Cubs into the loser's bracket of the tournament.
The Blue Devils were simply too deep and talented for the uninitiated Bear Cubs. Ten Blue Devils scored and four finished in double figures. They made 43% of their shots (33 out of 77), while the Bear Cubs made 34% of theirs (21 out of 61).
Maiya Flores was the only Bear Cub in double figures with 12 points. Jasmine Henderson totaled 9 points, DJ Hayes and Maddie Strom 8 each, Cammie Barsuglia 5, Shayla Newman 4, and Britta Irvine and Lilly Orozco 3 each. Guard Britta Irvine was the leading rebounder with 6. Orozco and Newman each pulled down 5 missed shots. Barsuglia passed for 6 assists and Hayes made 3 steals.