Finally playing their long-awaited Western State Conference opener, the VC women's basketball team used a balanced attack to defeat Oxnard 95-52 Wednesday evening at the Condors' Nest. Madison Kast led five players in double-figures with 16 points while Yasmine Ahllamara and Kimora Pooler each totaled 15 on the night. Talia Taufaasau netted 13 points while Cece Quintino put up an even dozen. Quintino handed out seven assists and LaDaesha Merriweather grabbed 11 boards for Ventura (15-4, 1-0).
With LA Pierce failing to field a team and Cuesta beset by injuries to the point they could not continue their season, the rest of the conference lost four games, delaying the start of WSC North play by two weeks. Although VC was able to pick up a pair of non-conference match-ups to fill in, the Pirates had still not played in 11 days, and only had one game in nearly three weeks. The team was ready to play Wednesday, and it showed in a blistering 27-10 first quarter.
Nikki Puga connected for a 3-pointer, and Taufaasau followed with a drive and bucket to put the Pirates ahead 11-4 midway through the opening period. After an Oxnard three, VC went on a 13-0 run to pull away. Ahllamara's drive and score got the run going, followed by an inside up and under by Kast. Quintino connected on a mid-range jumper and Ahllamara pulled up on the break from range. Pooler scored twice inside before OC broke the skid with a score with just five seconds remaining in the period. VC countered, however, attacking in transition with a 3-pointer by Alaina Garcia at the buzzer for the 27-10 margin.
The Pirates pounded the paint in the second quarter with Kast netting a pair of inside shots early. Alyssandra Lacanilao netted a quick score inside and Merriweather sandwiched a pair of field goals around another Kast score and a free throw, for a 42-17 Pirate lead with 3:20 on the clock. Ahllamara answered an Oxnard three with her own shot from range, and another basket by Pooler and a charity shot by Puga put Ventura ahead 48-25 at intermission.
The Pirates took a while to get going after intermission. Puga connected from behind the arc at the 7:40 mark, and Merriweather scored inside nearly two minutes later. The Condors were not able to make much headway against the Ventura defense, however, and when Quintino hit a three from the top of the key midway through the period, VC still led 56-35. The Pirates expanded their lead through the end of the quarter behind three buckets by Pooler. Ahllamara drove for another two and hit another three while Emma Larson converted a lay-up in transition. VC led 69-41 heading into the final stanza.
Taufaasau began to heat up in the final period, scoring on a drive and hitting a three in the opening minutes. After a Kast charity shot, Taufaasau hit another shot from beyond the arc. Kast scored twice on putbacks and Quintino scored on an old-fashioned 3-point play late. Puga finished with a nice left-handed drive and Pooler completed a 3-point play for the final 95-52 margin.
All 10 Pirates who saw action Wednesday scored. In addition to five in double-figures, Puga had nine points and Merriweather recorded eight. Pooler and Quintino each had five rebounds in the game while Kast, Ahllamara and Taufaasau all pulled in four caroms. Merriweather, Lacanilao and Pooler all dropped three dimes and Merriweather, Pooler and Taufaasau each totaled a pair of blocks.
Ventura returns home for the next game Saturday Jan. 25. The Pirates will host Santa Barbara at 5:00 pm in the first game of a double-header also featuring the VC men. Immediately following the game, the Pirates will honor their favorite teachers for 2020.