For the second night in a row, a sub-par effort led to a loss for the Ventura College women's basketball team. The Pirates shot just 29 percent from the floor, 20 percent from three, in falling to visiting College of the Canyons 67-57 at the Athletic Event Center. Talia Taufaasau netted 20 points with seven rebounds and four assists to lead VC (12-2) and Madison Kast scored 18 with seven boards. Kimora Pooler hauled in 13 rebound and LaDaesha Merriweather had 10 boards.
The Pirates took a brief 6-0 lead on a pair of 3-pointers by Taufaasau in the first two minutes of play. The Cougars came storming back, scoring 12 of the next 13 points while VC missed eight straight field goal attempts. Nikki Puga assisted a Pooler score inside to break the skid for the Pirates, but Canyons continued with a three and a 3-point play to open an 18-9 lead with 51 seconds left in the first period. Alyssandra Lacanilao hit from deep to cut into the deficit, but VC still trailed 18-12 at the quarter break.
Things went from bad to worse in the second quarter for Ventura. After Kast made a lay-up on the Pirates' opening possession, VC missed their next six shots, three on one possession, in giving up a 9-0 run to CoC. The Pirates trailed 27-14 at the 6:23 mark before Victoria Maciel hit one of two free throws and Cece Quintino went coast to coast to narrow the gap to 10 points. Neither team scored for over two minutes before Lacanilao hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 27-20 before the Cougars scored the final six points of the half. Ventura trailed 35-22 at halftime.
Canyons began the second half with a score, stretching their lead back to 13 points, 35-22, when Kast hit two from range around a Cougar bucket to cut the deficit to single digits. Quintino then assisted a Pooler score on a pick and roll to make it 37-30 with 6:40 left in the third. Canyons responded, however, with a 6-0 run over the next three minutes. Pooler had an offensive rebound and putback with 3:16 on the clock, and Taufaasau's lay-up in the final minute made it 46-35 heading to the final quarter.
Ventura opened the final stanza with a 7-0 run to climb back into the game. Kast scored twice inside on assists by Quintino and Taufaasau, respectively, and Taufaasau hit a triple to cut the deficit to 46-42 with 7:56 remaining. After a Canyons free throw, Kast scored again inside, followed by a Taufaasau jumper to cut the deficit to one, 47-46, at the 5:14 mark. Canyons responded with a banked 3-pointer, and the Pirates were outscored 8-2 over the next two minutes. Kast scored off an offensive rebound to make it 55-50 with 2:49 remaining, but the Pirates could get no closer the rest of the way. CoC was 12-14 from the free throw line in the final two minutes as Ventura went down to defeat, 67-57.
Despite the loss, Ventura heads into the Christmas break at 12-2 and holds the No. 1 RPI in southern California. They will host the VC-Optimist Club Holiday Classic Saturday and Sunday Dec. 28 and 29. There will be four games each day with the Pirates playing the final contest. VC hosts Irvine Valley on Saturday at 6:00 pm before playing Mt. San Jacinto at 5:00 pm on Sunday.