UC MERCED, CA – With less than 30 seconds remaining in the game, the University of California, Merced men’s basketball team hit a game-winning three-pointer. Or so they thought.
Unfortunately just 15 seconds later, Pacific Union College hit what would actually end up being the game-winner, and they walked off with a 78-77 victory.
Matt Laflin led all scorers with 23 points in the loss. Reggie Nelson flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 11 points, ten rebounds, and five assists. Seven of his ten rebounds were of the offensive variety.
UC Merced started the second half by immediately going up 11 points on aBranson Garcia three-pointer. The Bobcats kept that lead at double-digits for the first three minutes of the half, but then things started to go wrong. With 8:18 left, then again with 7:33 remaining, PUC tied the game up. Then at the 7:07 mark, the Pioneers took a lead that they would nearly hold for the rest of the game.
After coming back from a five points deficit, UC Merced had the ball with just under a minute remaining. Garcia got a look at a three. It didn’t fall, but Matt Laflin was there to secure an offensive rebound and give the team another shot. Trailing 76-74, Garcia again found himself open from three, and this time he left no doubt, drilling the deep shot to give UC Merced the 77-76 lead with just 25 seconds remaining in the game.
With the pressure on, PUC was unfortunately able to step up in front of their home crowd, getting a good shot from the paint and burying it to take a one point lead with ten seconds remaining. Try as they may, UC Merced wasn’t able to get a good look at the basket in the closing seconds, and the result was a tough conference defeat.
Neither team had any trouble making shots throughout the game. The Bobcats shot 42% from the floor and from three-point range. PUC unfortunately shot above 50% from both of those areas.
The Bobcats have two more games remaining this season. The first of which comes this Saturday when they play at home against Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Arizona. That will also be Senior Night for the Bobcats, and they will honor seven graduating players. Tip is scheduled for 7:30 PM.