John Sykes knew it was just a matter of time.
The UC Merced men’s basketball coach closed out 2012 by changing the program’s system.
The result has been some of the Golden Bobcats’ best play of the season in the four games since the move, making it just a matter of time before they notched their first win of the season.
UC Merced (1-16) achieved just that on Sunday night in a doubleheader with the women’s team against La Sierra. Aki Chambers poured in a season-high 36 points and UC Merced only trailed in the opening minute of a 90-80 victory at Hostetler Court.
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Javon Barrino broke out of a season-long slump with 14 points and Michael Yonemoto chipped in 16 points and five assists in the win.
The UC Merced women couldn’t make it a sweep, falling to La Sierra 50-37 in the night’s opener.
“The guys had been getting closer and tonight they finally fully bought in to the new system,” Sykes said. “We made the change and have been playing much better defense. Tonight we responded to the challenge I issued and put it all together.”
Foothill 58, Merced College 56
LOS ALTOS -- Jasmine Joseph (team-high 13 points) helped the Lady Devils build an 11-point halftime lead on NorCal No. 3 Foothill, but they faded down the stretch.
Sonji Green had 11 points and 11 rebounds for MC (8-8) and Rogenee Russell also added 11.
The Lady Devils made just 3 of 11 free throws, which proved to be the difference.
TURLOCK -- Buhach Colony wrestlers Steven Strasser and Coby Williamson both took home individual championships at the Bulldog Classic on Saturday at Turlock High.
Strasser pinned Los Banos' Marcus Carrillo in the 170-pound final. Williamson earned a 3-2 decision over De La Salle's Harrison Walsh to win the 152-pound division.
The Thunder finished the highest of any area team with a fourth-place finish.
Turlock ran away with the team title with five Bulldogs taking home individual titles.
Los Banos' Tyler Felix (113 pounds) and Buhach Colony's Cesar Sotelo (195) and Carlos Gutierrez (285) also reached the finals in their respective divisions.
Merced 50, Livingston 36
LIVINGSTON -- Travante Richardson scored 16 points as the Bears (7-10) defeated the Wolves.
Jonathan Chairez added 10 points for Merced.
Brian Perez led Livingston with 16 points.
Buhach Colony 47, Beyer 44
Jessica Silva and Allison Wisdom each scored 10 points as the Thunder (12-5) held on to defeat the Patriots at the Central California Conference-Modesto Metro Conference Challenge at Golden Valley on Saturday.
Merced 45, Modesto 43
Tekerra Borden poured in 20 points as the Bears (11-5) squeaked past the Panthers. Modesto almost sent the game into overtime, but the basket scored just after the final buzzer.
Downey 40, Golden Valley 36
The Cougars dropped to 3-12 on the season. Golden Valley didn't help itself, making just 10 of 26 from the free-throw line. Beatriz Munoz led the Cougars with 12 points.
Johansen 45, Atwater 43
The Falcons came up short against the Vikings despite Brianne Hunter's 10 points.