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Columbia ends two-game skid against Merced

After back-to-back Central Valley Conference losses, first-year Columbia College men’s basketball coach Rob Hoyt knew he had to make some changes, especially on the offensive side.

Instead of trotting out his usual starting lineup, Hoyt inserted Robert Orantes and Mike Williams into the rotation in place of Marcus Junior and Jordan Gomez to provide a spark.

And it paid off.

Columbia defeated Merced College 63-50 on Saturday night in Merced.

“It was good,” said Columbia forward Tige Wingo. “I think we would have liked to score a little more points, but we held them under 60, which was our goal. We went in expecting to win and we’re able to get a win.”

With Orantes and Williams starting, Junior, who scored six points, was able to play a reserve role and provide that energy off the bench Hoyt and the Claim Jumpers were looking for.

The Columbia bench scored a combined 17 points.

“The guys responded well,” Hoyt said. “They’re doing a really good job of keeping it family oriented and supporting each other. They did a really nice job of playing solid.”

Columbia forward Rafe King drained a career-high eight 3-pointers to finish with a team-best 24 points. The freshman sharpshooter was 72 percent from beyond the arc, connecting on 8 of 11 attempts.

“He’s our best shooter on our team,” Wingo said. “When he gets hot, it’s hard to stop him. Everyone did a good job of screening and getting him open. He was on fire.”

“He’s been doing a really good job of doing what the defense is giving him and not forcing a shot,” Hoyt said. “He did a great job. He took 11 3s, and the three he missed was dead on. He’s definitely a weapon. One of our stronger weapons that we rely on that played really well.”

Summerville graduates Rosendo AmayaWood and Wingo netted 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Forward Ian Merzwinski added seven points and Daniel Radford had four for Columbia.

“We make an emphasis to get the ball inside,” Hoyt said. “Ian and Tige did a great job on the offensive glass. Ian, in particular, had one of his better games. They had trouble matching up with our guys.”

Columbia shot 15 of 24 from the charity strip.

It was the fourth time in the past five games that the Claim Jumpers were able to hold their opponent to 60 points or fewer.

“I’m really happy with the effort,” Hoyt said. “If we play like that in the future, we will be fine.”

Columbia (9-10, 2-2 CVC) returns to Oak Pavilion when it hosts Porterville College (6-11, 0-3 CVC) on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

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