COLUMBIA — Make the final stop to win. Allow points and you lose.
It came down to the final possession Thursday night for the Columbia College men's basketball team, one stop away from a post-Christmas victory.
Instead, Siskiyous lightened the mood for its seven-hour trip back to Weed by beating the Columbia defense for the 61-59 victory.
Watkins Williams rebounded a miss, scored with a soft return off the glass with 3.1 seconds left and completed the 3-point play.
Jarron Crump's 35-footer wasn't close at the buzzer, pinning leaving Columbia (5-8) with its second disappointing loss to Siskiyous this season.
The Claim Jumpers led 59-58 after D.J. Muses' tough rebound and putback with 11.3 seconds left. Wisely, they aligned in a zone defense and dared Siskiyous to beat them with a perimeter shot. Instead, Siskiyous whipped the zone with a dribble drive that set up the deciding points.
"Good fundamental basketball says you allow a contested shot, box out and retrieve the ball," Columbia coach Nate Rien reasoned. "We let them drive to the basket."
It was a night of what-ifs for Columbia. Its leading scorer, Danny Radford (15.8 points per game), couldn't find the range and finished with only 6. The Claim Jumpers opened with a 14-4 surge but went scoreless for 5½ minutes bridging the first and second halves.
They downgraded to an 11-point deficit until they were relaunched by freshman guard Demetrius "D.J." Muses (19 points). He scored both inside and outside en route to 10 straight points as Columbia countered and built a 55-52 lead with less than three minutes left.
"We tried to get him (Radford) out of his slump," Muses said. "We had to find another solution."
Crump, Columbia's sophomore point guard, had 11 points and forward Ashton Richardson totaled 11. Regardless, the Claim Jumpers didn't need to be told they lost hold of a winnable game.
Improvement, Muses said, will depend on "all of us being on the same page."
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2302.