The Pirates' men's basketball team held a 38-31 halftime edge, but could not hold on as the fell to visiting Citrus College 81-75 Tuesday night at the Athletic Event Center. Tone Patton led a balanced VC scoring attack with 16 points and seven rebounds while Thomas Dangerfield totaled 14 points. Keron Bailey had 13 points with a team-high nine boards for the Pirates (8-9).
Early in the game, the Pirates slowly built an advantage over the Owls. Patton hit a jumper at the 14:58 mark to close a 6-2 Ventura run to make it 14-8, and assisted a three-ball by Dangerfield to extend the lead to eight points, 23-15, nearly four minutes later. While Citrus continuously made runs at the Pirates for the remainder of the half, Ventura seemed to always have an answer. Jelani Bell had a lay-up at the 1:40 mark to extend the lead to 36-27, and Lamont Landers netted a pair of free throws a minute later to make the Pirate advantage double digits, 38-27. Citrus ended the half on a 4-0 run to give the Pirates a 38-31 halftime edge.
The Pirates maintained their edge for the first two minutes of the second half with buckets by Bailey and Patton, but in a one minute stretch, Citrus made back-to-back 3-pointers and a 2-point field goal to tie the game at 43 in a hurry. Citrus then completed a 10-0 run to take a 45-43 lead at the 17:09 mark before an old-fashioned 3-point play by Timothy Turner put VC back ahead. Over the next three minutes there were three lead changes and three ties before the Owls took the lead for good with their own 3-point play with 13:36 remaining. Ventura remained close, pulling to within one points, 60-59, five minutes later, and coming to within a bucket, 72-70 with 4:44 on the clock, but they were never able to overtake the visitors. Landers made a jumper at the 3:33 mark to pull VC to within 74-73, but Citrus immediately answered with a deuce. The Owls hit three of four free throws in the final minute to seal the 81-75 final score.
Turner ended the night with 12 points for VC while Bell had 10 points and five assists.
Ventura closes out their non-conference schedule with a game at College of the Canyons on Friday Jan. 11. Tip-off in the Cougars' Cage is slated for 7:00 pm. The Pirates return home to open Western State Conference North Division play on Saturday Jan. 19 at 5:00 pm against Santa Barbara City College.