Looking for a rebound, the Pirates' women's basketball team found a trap game instead. Coming off of Wednesday's emotional loss, VC headed to Allan Hancock College to face the well-rested Bulldogs and gave up 16 points off of turnovers and shot 37 percent from the field in dropping the 74-64 decision in Santa Maria. Madison Kast had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead Ventura (16-6, 2-2) and Talia Taufaasau scored 16 points with four boards. Cece Quintino contributed 11 points.
The Pirates went ahead 4-3 on a pair of free throw by Taufaasau, and tied the game at 7-7 when Nikki Puga hit a three from the left wing. Taufaasau made a pull-up jumper with 2:19 remaining to make it 13-12 for VC, and Kast scored inside on the next possession for a three point advantage. The Bulldogs closed the quarter with back-to-back shots from range, however, and Ventura trailed 18-15 at the quarter break.
Ventura could not make any headway against the Bulldogs in the second quarter in which both teams struggled shooting the ball. Kimora Pooler mad a lay-up at the 3:53 mark to make it 28-24, but AHC responded with a make on the next possession. Kast scored inside a minute later, but a 3-pointer by Hancock in the closing seconds of the half made it 33-26 at the intermission.
The Bulldogs made a triple to open the third period, stretchi8ng the lead to double-figures, but Ventura responded with an 8-1 run to cut the deficit to three. Taufaasau and Quintino scored on back-to-back possessions, and Kast answered a Hancock free throw with another inside score. A minute later Taufaasau made another lay-up and it was 37-34 at the 7:08 mark. The teams went the next three minutes without a score until AHC connected for two. Yasmine Ahllamara's three with 3:14 remaining pulled the Pirates back to within 41-38, but an 8-2 run to end the quarter ahead 49-40.
Pooler's charity shot in the first minute of the final stanza closed the gap to eight points, but two free throws and a three by the Bulldogs stretched the margin to 13 points, 54-41, with 7:54 remaining. VC had trouble making much headway from that point. They cut the deficit to nine on a number of occasions, and trailed 62-55 with 3:04 remaining on Kasts' score. Ventura kept the margin at seven with buckets by Quintino and Kast heading to the final minute, but could get no closer. Hancock pulled away for the 74-64 victory.
Pooler pulled down 11 rebounds for the Pirates, who won the battle of the boards 49-33. Merriweather had eight caroms. Kast had three blocks and Taufaasau had two.
Ventura has a week to right the ship headed to the second round of Western State Conference North Division play. The Pirates will host Oxnard College on Saturday Feb. 8 at 5:00 pm. It will be VC's 13th Annual Ribbons of Life Breast Cancer game featuring a silent auction to benefit the Ribbons of Life Breast Cancer Foundation. Events begin at 4:30 pm in the lobby of the Athletic Event Center.