MODESTO, Calif.- The Cosumnes River men's basketball team extended their current winning streak to six games, defeating the Columbia ClaimJumpers 64-62 in the first round of the 77th MJC College Basketball Tournament on Tuesday night. The Hawks will take on the Foothill Owls in the second round of the championship bracket tonight at 10 PM. Foothill advanced to the second round after defeating Yuba 70-67 in their opening round contest last night.
CRC began the game looking anything but a team that was riding a five-game winning streak into the 16-team tournament on Tuesday. The Hawks were sloppy, turning the ball over 13 times in the first twenty minutes of action, and weren't playing their trademark defense that has powered the team to a 5-3 record to begin the season. Columbia played an outstanding first twenty minutes of basketball, executing offensively while holding the Hawks to a season-low 20 points in the first half, as Cosumnes River managed only nine first half field goals to trail Columbia 31-20 at the half.
The ClaimJumpers got off to a hot start to the second half as well, pushing the deficit to a game high 13 points, as Cosumnes River trailed by double-digits for much of the second half. The Hawks began to make a run in the final ten minutes, however, as sophomore guard Mitchell Love connected on four consecutive three-point field goals to bring the Hawks within striking distance. Head Coach James Giacomazzi's defense led the Hawks the rest of the way, as CRC held Columbia to only one field goal in the game's final six minutes. A number of late stops, and a key block by Love on Columbia's final field goal attempt sealed the win, as Cosumnes River survives to advance in the 77th Annual MJC College Basketball Tournament.
Love led the Hawks with 14 points, while reserve guard Josh Dela Cruz added 12 points off the bench. Trenton Anthony contributed nine points for the Hawks, while David Straughter scored eight points and collected 13 rebounds. Anthony led the Hawks with five assists in the game. Freshman guard Marquelle Hubbard led the ClaimJumpers with a game-high 19 points, while sophomore guard Rafe King scored 11 points, while playing most of the game in foul trouble.
Cosumnes River's record improves to 6-3 on the season, as the Hawks enjoy a six-game winning streak heading into tonight's game. A win tonight will give the Hawks the best record in the Big 8 conference, as well as an opportunity to play the winner of Napa Valley-De Anza in the tournament's championship semifinals. The Hawks play Foothill, who defeated Cosumnes River earlier this season in the consolation round of the San Jose City College tournament.