In a game of runs by both teams, the VC men's basketball team hung on for a 61-58 victory at Oxnard College Wednesday night. Vondel Faniel sparked the win with 22 points and 17 rebounds on the night for Ventura while Steven Bush added 20 points, hitting six 3-pointers in the effort.
The Pirates used strong post play to take a quick 8-0 lead five minutes into the contest. Faniel had six of the eight points while freshman forward Chris Thompson had the other bucket, and the duo pulled in four early rebounds as well in dominating play in the paint. The Condors answered, scoring the next nine points on three long-range bombs to take a 9-8 lead with under 14 minutes to play in the opening half.
The Condor run ended with a Faniel layup, but the Condors had an answer with their fourth 3-pointer of the game, taking their lead up to 12-10. Oxnard scored the next eight points, making it a 20-2 run, before a pair of Eric Davis free throws stopped the OC momentum. A Robert Hunt 3-point bucket and Condor turnover got the Pirates within seven of the lead with under nine minutes left in the half.
The rivals exchanged buckets the next few minutes before the Condors went on yet another run taking their largest lead of the game up to 17, 38-21. Bush connected from long range to stop the bleeding for VC, cutting the lead to 14 points at the 2:18 mark. Behind three Faniel buckets and a Jamal Lewis steal and lay up, the Pirates cut the OC lead to 40-32 at halftime.
The second half started with the Pirates exchanging 3-point buckets with OC, the only three points OC managed in the opening five minutes of the final period. Ventura cut the lead to six at the 14:32 mark, and Bush knocked down back-to-back triples to cut the lead to two with just under 13 minutes to play. A third consecutive Bush trey gave the Pirates their first lead of the second half, 46-45 with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
Oxnard responded with a quick 8-0 run to retake the lead, 53-46 with just under 10 minutes left to play. Bush hit a pair of threes to pull the Pirates within one, 53-52 around the eight-minute mark. Both teams went cold for the next few minutes before a Faniel lay up at the four minute mark gave VC a 54-53 advantage. A quick OC response was followed by another Bush 3-pointer, giving VC a two point cushion, 57-55, with 2:34 on the clock. An Oxnard three with a minute to go put the Condors on top 58-57.
Following a Pirate timeout, Faniel cleaned up a missed 3-pointer, and was fouled on the putback with 35 seconds remaining. He calmly made both free throws to give the Pirates the edge. The ensuing Condor possession was halted and sealed with another Faniel defensive rebound, his 17th of the contest. Down by one, Oxnard was forced to foul, and the Pirates missed the front end of the one-and-one. Oxnard pulled down the rebound, but was called for a carrying violation soon thereafter, turning the ball back to VC. The Condors fouled Bush with 1.9 seconds left, and he made both charity tosses to set the final margin at 61-58.
Faniel paced the Pirates with 22 points to go along with his 17 rebounds. Bush added 20 points, shooting 6-16 from long range. Once again the Pirates had a great group effort on the glass, outrebounding Oxnard 43 to 29. VC also limited their turnovers to nine while dishing out 16 assists. Jalon Wilson and Hunt each handed out three dimes for the Pirates.
The Pirates return home for the season finale Saturday Feb. 21, facing rival Moorpark College. It is also the Pirates' annual Barbeque Fundraiser night. Tri-tip is set to be served at 4:00 pm at the VC Sportsplex while tip-off for the men's game is set for 5:00 pm. The Pirate women will follow at 7:00 pm.