Rams head into Post Season play after falling to Merced

The Rams finished the regular season 16-11 on Friday Feb. 21  after a home loss to Merced. The final score was 83-75. Though FCC heads into postseason play with a defeat, they look to cut back on some costly mistakes going into the playoffs. 

“We did a good job offensively. Rebounding just hurt us in the end,” said head coach Alex Fletcher about the loss. 

Early on it seemed as if turnovers were going to be the deciding factor of the game, as each team struggled to capitalize on the mistakes made early on. 

Halfway through the first quarter, with the score 7-3 and Merced with the lead, full court pressure forced FCC to burn an early timeout. Coming back onto the floor the lady Rams were able to limit their turnovers and go into the 2nd quarter down two, 15-13.

When it came down to maintaining possession of the ball, both teams struggled, and neither seemed to capitalize off turnovers, keeping the game close. 

“We know Merced is a very good second half team,” said Fletcher, “so we knew they were going to come out willing to run.” As nNeither team could distance the scoring gap, and FCC went into the half down four, 35-31.

Sticking to the script, Merced immediately forced the Rams to turn it the ball over on the first play in the second half.  Taking advantage of costly mistakes, Merced quickly propelled to a ten-point lead. 

“When our defense is set up and organized, our defense is pretty solid,” Fletcher said. As it seemed Merced’s game plan was to limit their offensive mistakes, they aimed to make the most of FCC. Moving in transition made it difficult for them to set up their defense and kept them off balance.  

Going into the fourth quarter with the lead 60-52, Merced was able to spread the defense and dominate the glass on offense.

Ball rotation got the Rams shifting and leaving gaps open for their opponents to find the open player and knock down easy shots. If the open shots wouldn’t fall, they were there for the offensive rebound and an easy play at the bucket.  At one point Merced had a commanding 13-point lead near the halfway point of the final quarter.

 Fresno City looked to have tightened up their defense and limit turnovers, making a late run cutting the lead down to six. But that’s as close as Merced would allow them to get, finishing the game with a final score of 83-75.

With this loss, FCC finished conference play with a record of 8-4, placing  third in the standings, behind College of the Sequoias and front runner Merced.

“Once we figure out who we play and where we’re at, we’ll go from there,” Fletcher said when asked about any adjustments being made going into the postseason. Though Fresno City goes on the road for playoffs, they are taking their confidence with them.

Update: The 16-11 Rams (12) will go on the road on Saturday, Feb. 29 to take on 22-6 Chabot (4) in the opening round of the CCCAA Northern Regional playoffs. Chabot finished the season on an 8-game win streak, winning the Coast-North conference after splitting their two games against City College of San Francisco. Chabot averages just over 74 points per game and boasted a 7-2 record at home this season.