Local Colleges: Merced rolls past Porterville

MERCED -- The month of December was a struggle for the Merced College men's basketball team.

So much so that sophomore forward Nate Williams wasn't sure there'd be anyone in attendance when the team finally returned home on Wednesday.

Instead, MC's loyal masses turned out for the Blue Devils' first home game in 43 days. And MC busted out of a five-game losing skid with its most convincing victory of the season, trouncing Porterville 94-65 in both teams' Central Valley Conference opener. Julius Cheeks had 24 points for Merced (6-11, 1-0).

"We'd been playing so badly, we didn't think many people would be here," Williams said. "We needed this. We were hungrier than them, because of the losing streak."

FRESNO CITY 94, COLUMBIA 76, at Fresno -- Fresno City (19-5, 1-0 CVC) used a run in the second half to extend an eight-point halftime lead over the Claim Jumpers (4-15, 0-2). Raj Palmer of Columbia made four 3-pointers and scored a game-high 22 points.