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Yuba College men get back on track
Smith leads 49ers in blowout win
The Yuba College men's basketball team had to do something on Wednesday night it hadn't done in more than two years — bounce back after a Bay Valley Conference loss.
Without the services of leading scorer Chris Smith (ankle injury), the 49ers lost 77-76 at Bay Valley Conference cellar-dweller Napa Valley College (5-19) on Friday night in what Yuba coach Doug Cornelius labeled the worst loss of his 12-year tenure at Yuba College.
"I felt worse this last weekend than I did when we lost the state championship," Cornelius said. "It was almost like I was in shock, like I didn't really believe that could happen to us."
Thankfully, for Cornelius, his freshman standout was back in top form on Wednesday.
Smith scored 32 points in his return to the starting lineup as the 49ers trounced visiting Mendocino College 108-69 to stay on top of the BVC as they pursue the program's seventh straight conference crown.
The freshman sharpshooter out of Antelope's Center High did a little bit of everything for Yuba.
Smith pulled down 10 rebounds, was 7-for-7 from the free-throw line, made nice scoring drives to the bucket, nailed five 3-pointers and added in a one-handed slam dunk for good measure.
The 49ers have suffered two 1-point losses when Smith hasn't played this season. He had to miss a game in December in order to take his finals.
"Obviously, you can see what Chris Smith means to this team," Cornelius said. "It's hard to swallow when your best player's not there and you take two one-point losses."
Yuba (18-7, 12-1) will likely need to win its final three games to at least have a shot at hosting a playoff game.
The 49ers came back with a vengeance against the Eagles and turned what looked to be a tight game into a blowout quickly.
Yuba led 9-8 early in the first half before erupting for an 18-4 run, capped off by back-to-back 3-pointers from Smith, as the Niners went ahead 26-12.
Mendocino inched its way back into contention, cutting Yuba's lead to 36-30, but the Niners responded with a 22-5 run to end the first half as they went into the locker room up 58-35.
Yuba shot 65 percent from the field in the first half compared to Mendocino's 35 percent.
"I think we needed that loss to make us come back harder," Smith said. "We're preparing for every team now like it's a playoff game."
The Niners continued their offensive barrage in the second half and shot 63 percent over the final 20 minutes.
Of the 12 players who saw the court on Wednesday for Yuba, 11 scored.
Gary Melvin dropped in 17 points and sophomore Achoki Moikobu added 11 and six assists for Yuba. Jaysen Williams scored nine off the bench and hauled in nine rebounds.
Napa Valley snapped Yuba's BVC winning streak at 40 games, and for the first time since the 2009-10 season, the Niners won't be going undefeated in conference play.
Yuba isn't concerned with putting together a new double-digit streak like that. The 49ers will gladly take a four-game winning streak and seventh straight conference championship.
"We know we have to work hard to keep this tradition going," Smith said.
Yuba travels to Los Medanos on Friday night. The Niners close out the regular season next week at College of Marin on Feb. 20 and their final home game is Feb. 22 against Merritt.
Mendocino 79, Yuba 58
Taylor Rasmussen scored 19 points and Chloe Pereiro added 17 as the 49ers dropped a BVC game to the Eagles.
Chelsea Geoia added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Yuba.