A night after the Pirates controlled the paint, they lit the basket up from afar, hitting 12 3-pointers in their 67-55 victory over San Francisco Saturday in the semifinals of the Buddy's All-Star Classic at Los Angeles Valley College. Talia Taufaasau hit four triples en route to a season-high 25 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists. Cece Quintino and Madison Kast also hit double figures with 10 points each and LaDaesha Merriweather pulled down 10 rebounds. The Pirates (11-0) were 12-18 from 3-point land on the night with six different players hitting from range.
Ventura led wire-to-wire, beginning with Taufaasau's 3-pointer two minutes into the game. Taufaasau scored VC's first nine points before Emma Larson connected from deep in the right corner off a Nikki Puga assist for a 12-7 lead with 3:14 remaining in the first quarter. Kast answered a CCSF jumper with her own bucket and Ventura led 14-9 after one quarter.
Kast hit a free throw to start the second period, and, after two charity tosses by the Rams, Alyssandra Lacanilao began an 8-0 VC run with a 3-pointer on Kimora Pooler's dime. Pooler followed with an inside jumper with help from Taufaasau before Quintino cashed in a three, also with Taufaasau's assist, for a 23-11 Pirate lead with 7:07 on the clock. Ventura maintained the double-digit lead until San Francisco connected on two straight three's late in the quarter. Taufaasau had an answer, however, taking a defensive rebound coast-to-coast in the final 10 seconds of the period, hitting a 25-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 31-22 Pirate lead at intermission.
The 3-point bonanza continued in the third quarter for Ventura as the Pirates hit six shots from range in a 24-point effort. After Taufaasau drove the basket for a lay-up to start the stanza, she answered a San Francisco triple with her own shot from behind the arc. Quintino and Victoria Maciel also hit for three, and Quintino made a lay-up as the Pirates moved ahead 44-29 midway through the period. Lacanilao followed a Ram two with another triple, and Pooler scored inside for the 49-31 advantage. Quintino assisted another trey by Taufaasau with 2:07 on the clock, then helped a 3-pointer by Kast in the final minute. Ventura led 55-38 at the quarter break.
Kast began the final quarter with another triple, stretching the lead back to 20 points, 58-38, and Taufaasau's lay-up gave Ventura its biggest lead of the game, 60-38, with 8:32 left to play. The lead remained 20 with Pooler's score at the 4:59 mark and Quintino's lay-up 40 seconds later. CCSF made a run late, closing to within 11 points, 66-55, but the Pirate lead was too much to overcome. Ventura won going away 67-55.
Quintino added a game-high nine assists and five rebounds to her 10 points. Kast pulled down five boards and Pooler scored eight points with five caroms and three assists. Lacanilao added six points and four rebounds to the Pirate victory.
The Pirates advance to their fourth tournament championship game of the season on Sunday Dec. 15. VC will take on host Los Angeles Valley, and their head coach and VC alumna Monica Hang '02, at 5:00 pm in Valley Glen.