The Pirates' men's basketball team could not hold on to a halftime lead Thursday in the opening round of the Irvine Valley Classic, falling to College of the Canyons 61-57. Vondel Faniel had another double-double for VC (4-3) with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Jamal Lewis contributed 10 points off the bench.
The Pirates game out of the gates strong, taking two different nine point leads in the game's opening 20 minutes (25-16 and 30-21). Canyons did not go away, however, cutting the VC advantage to 30-23 at the break. The Pirates allowed 12 offensive rebounds to help keep the Cougars close.
Sophomore forward Faniel paced the Pirates with nine first half points to go along with eight rebounds. Freshman guard Lewis sparked the Pirates going 3-3 from the field to score six points and grabbed four rebounds in the opening period.
Canyons would open the second half on a 9-0 run in the first five minutes, and the score was tied 38-38 with 12 minutes left to play. The game would be back and forth all the way to the end, and missed opportunities from the perimeter and the foul line hurt the Pirates down the stretch. They were 5-19 from behind the arc and 12-19 from the charity stripe collectively.
Despite poor shooting the Pirates had a one point lead with under five minutes on the clock following a big 3-pointer from sophomore forward Eric Davis. In the end, VC could not get over the hump as CoC's effort to slow down the Pirates running attack was successful. Ventura fell by a final score of 61-57.
Faniel finished with his double-double and Lewis added seven boards to his 10 points. Freshman D'dante Freeman also provided a spark of energy for the Pirates, tallying nine points and four rebounds. Freshman forward Nate Claxton added eight points.
Ventura will play Cuyamaca College on Friday Nov. 21 at 1:00 pm in the consolation semifinals at Irvine Valley College.