The game in Fresno on Wednesday started out hopeful for the 49rs. Anto Olah got a shot in and a free throw to go with it. Not long after, Mike McChristian, with the shot clock running low, made a long range two point shot, giving Yuba a quick 5-0 lead.
The lead didn’t shrink as Mike McChristian matched a three pointer from one of the Fresno City Rams. After the Rams got a layup, Julian Scott saved a stray ball that he used for a field goal. Another layup from the home court team was more than balanced by a 3 pointer from Yuba’s Spencer Butterfield. The next time Yuba had the ball, Olah rebounded a missed shot by Scott and put it in successfully. With twelve minutes left in the first half, the 49rs led 15-7.
Throughout the early part of the game, the Rams were sloppy with the ball and knocked it out of bounds multiple times. This made it easy for the 49rs to step in and get a good handle on the game, as long as they continued to make their shots and get their share of rebounds.
Unfortunately, although Fresno continued to lose the ball often, Yuba started giving up too many rebounds. This gave Fresno the opportunity for more shots, which they made consistently for most of the game. To make matters worse, Yuba College, although they had good defense and controlled the ball when it was in their possession, began to miss shots, especially a few lightly guarded 3 point opportunities that would have helped them keep up with Fresno. By half-time, they were outscored by a minimal but foretelling 4 points.
The second half was painful. Led by McChristian, who picked up the slack throughout the game, the 49rs fought hard to gain control and to keep Fresno from scoring. Yuba managed to provide themselves with plenty of shot attempts, but few were successful. Jhonte Simpson (who topped Scott in scoring for the night) and Julian Welch both missed shots and got sent to the line only to make one of two attempts there. Even Butterfield, who rarely misses free throw shots, was 1 for 2 at the free throw line.
The Rams weren’t making a huge percentage of their shots either, but they got a few more in than Yuba. Because of this, the early part of the second half was characterized by Fresno’s growing lead.
Toward the end of the game, the referees became intolerant of Yuba’s level of physical contact. The 49rs had ten team fouls in the second half, and 19 of Fresno’s 51 second half points were from free throws. Fourteen of those nineteen free throws were made in the last five minutes of the half.
The 49rs improved their game considerably in that latter part, and may have filled the gap if not for all the fouls. Fresno took the game with a twelve point lead, 91- 79.