By DAN GOLDMAN
A poor shooting night may have cost the Columbia College basketball team a 64-57 loss to Modesto Junior College in the regular-season finale at Oak Pavilion on Saturday, but it probably wasn't enough to keep the Claim Jumpers from hosting a first-round game when the Northern California playoffs begin later this week.
The Claim Jumpers (19-12, 9-5 Central Valley Conference), who led by nine points with 13:57 remaining in the game, were ultimately done in by turnovers and an anemic offense.
Columbia shot just 39 percent from the field (including 4-for-18 from the 3-point line), posted a season-low 24 points in the second half and turned the ball over 18 times in allowing the Pirates (15-17, 7-7) to avenge a loss to the Claim Jumpers on Jan. 29 in Modesto.
"We just didn't shoot the ball in the second half," Columbia coach Andy Vasher said. "We were on our heels offensively in the second half, and had about a four- or five-minute stretch where all we did was shoot fadeaways."
After extending their 33-28 halftime lead to 45-36 when Talin Zimmer dropped in a layup, the Claim Jumpers suddenly imploded.
While Columbia was busy turning the ball over four times in the next 3:36, Sonora High School product Darin Zafferano (team-high 16 points) hit a 3-pointer to spark an 11-0 MJC run, putting the Pirates ahead 47-45 with 10:21 left.
"We had seven breakaway layups that we didn't score," Vasher said. "That's the difference between blowing the game wide open and letting them hang around."
Although Columbia managed to tie the game at 52-52, two more Jumper turnovers ignited a 7-0 MJC run, this time culminating in a Zafferano 3-pointer,
which upped the Pirates' lead to 59-52 with 3:26 remaining.
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