By DAN GOLDMAN
PLEASANT HILL As it turns out, there was a pretty good reason the No. 19-seeded Columbia College basketball team went into its Northern California second-round playoff game against No. 3-seed Diablo Valley as a heavy underdog.
After holding their own against Diablo Valley in the first half, the Claim Jumpers (20-13) fell victim to the Vikings' superior athleticism in the second half, and the result was a season-ending 70-52 defeat.
"(Diablo Valley) is a great team," Columbia coach Andy Vasher said. "I'm proud of our team. We played well, but we had a hard time getting shots off, and ran out of gas."
While Columbia was leaking fluid in the second half, the Vikings (33-2) appeared to get stronger as the game went on.
Fortunate to take a 28-27 lead into halftime after a relatively lackluster performance in the first half, Diablo Valley, and Mo Charlo in particular, had its game face on at the outset of the final 20 minutes.
Charlo opened the second half by simply outjumping and overpowering a horde of would-be Columbia rebounders to grab an offensive board and score the putback.
That rebound-and-follow set a tone which led to 10 points and nine rebounds in the second half for Charlo, and to a 42-25 lead for the Vikings.
"(In the second half), they got the rebounds they didn't get in the first half," Vasher said. "They still weren't scoring on their first shots, but they were on their second shots."
Diablo Valley pulled down 16 rebounds in the second half (to Columbia's eight), including eight on the offensive glass.
While the Vikings were controlling the boards, they also began to force the Jumpers into critical turnovers.
Columbia, which committed six turnovers in the first half, turned the ball over 12 times in the second half, leading to 12 points for Diablo Valley.
The Jumpers also struggled from the 3-point line, where they shot 39 percent for the season and averaged 7.3 treys per game. Last night, Columbia shot just 4-for-16 (25 percent) from the arc.