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Columbia looks to avoid second-round upset

The Columbia College mens basketball team doesnt want lightning to strike again tonight when it hosts Butte of Oroville in the second round of the Northern California playoffs.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Oak Pavilion on the Columbia campus.

The situation is not unlike last years second round, when fourth-seeded Columbia hosted No. 20 Merritt of Oakland and got knocked off in one of the biggest upsets of the postseason.

Columbia (24-6) is No. 10 this year, while Butte (13-16) is No. 26 and has already pulled a big road upset a 73-71 victory over No. 7 Santa Rosa in the first round last Saturday.

Santa Rosa was in control, but could never be ahead, Columbia coach Andy Vasher said. It was like when we played Modesto up here (Jan. 23). We were always in control, but they were always ahead.

Columbia was able to survive that night, 79-76, but Santa Rosa was sent packing in a shocker as Butte advanced behind 31 points by 6-foot-6, 230-pounder Nick Basinger. Basinger missed only two shots from the field and didnt miss any from the foul line as he put the Roadrunners on his ample back and carried them into the second round.

He scored inside, he made some from 14 or 15 feet and he even made a 3-pointer, Vasher said. It was ugly, but it went in.

Butte had a nice lead, but Roadrunners other than Basinger missed four of six free throws down the stretch. Each miss resulted in a quick Santa Rosa bucket at the other end and pretty soon the game was in the balance.

Vasher said that with eight seconds left, Butte made one of two foul shots, leaving Santa Rosa with one last chance to avoid the upset. The Bear Cubs rebounds the miss, but this time werent able to advance the ball quickly because of backcourt pressure. They still got into scoring position with time on the clock, but their big man wound up with the ball in the paint, hesitated, and then scooped in a layup ... after clock read :00.

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