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Yuba women's hoops wins home opener
49ers top Lassen 63-55
Even though it was only the third game of the 2012-13 season on Tuesday night, Yuba College women's basketball coach Steve Sain is already feeling optimistic about where his team is at.
Since leading the 49ers to their best season ever in 2008-09 (18 wins) and earning Bay Valley Conference Coach of the Year honors, Sain has done his best to guide Yuba through the doldrums of the last three seasons that ended with the following records: 4-20 (2011-12), 4-19 (10-11) and 4-21 (09-10).
The way his team won on Tuesday in its home opener, Sain hopes to see that trend move in a different direction.
The statistics weren't pretty with a 26 percent shooting night and 20 turnovers, but the only stat that mattered was the final score of 63-55 and Yuba's first victory of the season.
The Niners topped Lassen College in Linda after opening the year at the Cosumnes River College Tournament on Nov. 8 and 9 with losses to Cosumnes River College and College of the Redwoods.
Yuba (1-2) may have not shot that well from the floor on Tuesday, yet the inside presence of Chelsea Geoia and Cori Schatz coupled with a strong defensive effort from Kylie Nore compensated for it.
Geoia, an East Nicolaus High product, and Schatz both had double-doubles in the win. Geoia pulled down 18 rebounds and scored 11 points, while Schatz, a freshman out of Red Bluff, scored 12 points to go with 18 rebounds.
The Niners overcame an 8-minute scoreless drought in the first half and held their first lead at the 8:18 mark with a 15-14 advantage.
Yuba committed 13 turnovers in the first half and shot 24 percent from the field while Lassen made 42 percent of its shots.
Sain was impressed by his team's ability to overcome that early adversity when the Niners trailed 30-27 at halftime.
"They play hard, but they're still learning," Sain said. "It's going to take an adjustment period to find our roles and our identity, but I think we're going to compete well this year."
Sain's roster of 14 players consists of 12 freshmen. The only returners from last year's squad are Geoia and sharpshooter Chloe Pereiro, a Yuba City High alumnus, who was Yuba's second leading scorer last year (10.8 points per game) and ranked seventh in the state with a 40.6 3-point field goal percentage.
The main reason Yuba was able to overcome Tuesday's shooting woes was due to their advantage in the paint, a matchup opportunity Sain hopes to utilize as the season progresses. Geoia (5-foot-11), Schatz (5-9), Taylor Rasmussen (6-0) and Colusa grad Katie Mobley (6-3) all give Yuba a huge presence inside.
The 49ers trailed 40-37 early in the second half before some of their shots finally started to fall. Yuba went on a 10-0 run to take a 47-40 lead it wouldn't relinquish, keyed by 3-pointers from Pereiro and upstart freshman guard Tiffany Rhoades, who scored a team-high 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
Defensively, Yuba received a strong effort from Nore, who made four steals from the point guard spot.
"It's an adjustment from high school to college, and they're recognizing that, so we're going to have a learning curve," Sain said. "The game's more physical and fast."
Sain's 49ers will be back on the home floor on Tuesday against Feather River College before heading to Santa Cruz for the Cabrillo College Tournament, beginning Dec. 9.
These first two months of the season are where Sain says he will find out a lot about his players and where his team stands when BVC play begins in January.
"They can look good in practice, but when the lights go on, are they going to disappear or are they going to shine?" Sain said. "We're finding out in these early games who can shine and who can handle the pressure."