Midway through the second half, Brian Bergerson made the Santa Rosa men's basketball coach scream in frustration.
With 27 seconds left, the Modesto Junior College guard had the home fans screaming in elation.
Bergerson scored 20 points, including five 3-pointers, in the Pirates' 85-81 Big 8 Conference victory over Santa Rosa on Tuesday.
The MJC women lost their third consecutive game for the first time this season, 64-45, to a more energized Santa Rosa team.
The men's victory renewed Modesto's goal of a postseason appearance. The top four teams in the conference advance, and Modesto (14-11, 3-6 Big 8) was in sixth place entering the night while Santa Rosa (13-13, 5-3 Big 8) was fourth.
"That's a big win for us," Bergerson said. "They just got done beating Diablo Valley (fifth in Northern California) last week. It kept our playoff hopes alive."
Bergerson tied the game at 57-57, nailing a 3-pointer with 10:38 left that prompted a quick Santa Rosa timeout. While Bearcubs coach Craig McMillan could be heard admonishing his players for giving up the outside shot, Bergerson's confidence soared.
He wasn't the only Pirate playing one of his best games. Chris Teevan scored a season-high 29 points with 11 rebounds and eight assists. Marvin Jefferson added 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Eleazar Jones scored 11 points, including two late 3-pointers.
"That was the first time we've had guys hit big shots down the stretch in a close game," MJC coach Paul Brogan said.
Things fell into place nicely for Modesto, even after a scary injury to Bergerson. He left the game briefly with 4:43 remaining after colliding with a Santa Rosa player on a rebound. The Bearcat landed on Bergerson's right shoulder, which was bent behind him.
Bergerson, who stayed on the floor writhing in pain, said he didn't feel pain in his shooting shoulder at first because he landed awkwardly on his left hand, hyperextending his ring finger.
Brogan feared Bergerson would be gone for the season based on the pain he expressed on his face. He was pleasantly surprised when Bergerson said he was ready a few moments later.
His return to the court with 3:47 left led to a dramatic finish. He hit a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left to extend Modesto's lead to 83-76. The shot capped an intense game that was close throughout. Brogan listed a number of highlights, each from a different player, that pushed the Pirates over the top.
"It was nice to see the guys step up," he said. "Everybody contributed tonight."
SANTA ROSA 64, MJC 45 -- Injuries and illness took their toll on the Pirates.
The Bearcubs (18-9, 5-4 Big 8) moved into a third-place conference tie with MJC (16-10, 5-4), which had three starters fighting head colds and numerous players needing body parts wrapped in ice after the game.
Santa Rosa's Rachel Samana was the only player in double figures with 10 points. Ursyla Mueller led the Pirates with eight points.
"A lot of people were sick and our bodies weren't at 100 percent," guard Dalisa Waites said. "Friday was a hard-fought game (at Sierra) where we played our hearts out.
"This game was low-energy."
The 19-point final margin was Modesto's largest Big 8 Conference loss. Waites said the team isn't worried about a snowball effect. The Pirates played hard, they were just a little sapped. Modesto defeated Santa Rosa 59-54 in their first meeting Jan. 11.
"This is one of our hardest losses," said Waites, who had four points and three rebounds. "We didn't play our best game. We have to come out in practice hard and strong."