It sure wasn't close for long. The Pirates' men's basketball team scored the first six points of the game and jumped out to a 19-2 advantage in just over seven minutes of play en route to their 86-51 defeat of visiting Santa Barbara in their Western State Conference opener at the Athletic Event Center. Jelani Bell led four Pirates in double figures with 16 points while Elijah McCloud scored 14 points with a team-high seven rebounds in the victory for the 3-time defending conference champions.
Timothy Turner, Tone Patton and Dayveon Bates all scored in the first 90 seconds of the game for a 6-0 Pirate advantage. After a Vaquero free throw, the Pirates (10-9, 1-0) continued with a 10-0 run. Patton hit back-to-back buckets followed by lay-ups Bell, Bates and McCloud for a 16-1 lead at the 13:43 mark. Four minutes later, Thomas Dangerfield hit from range to extend the lead past 20 points 28-7, and McCloud hit a jumper off a Bell assist to make it 37-14 with 4:51 remaining in the half. Keron Bailey ended the half with a steal and a lay-up in the final minute as Ventura led Santa Barbara 47-20 at halftime.
Five minutes into the second half, Bell dropped a dime to Bates, who finished for a 3-point play and a 62-26 lead as Ventura was firmly in cruise control. Later in the half McCloud converted another Bell assist and the VC lead ballooned to 39 points, 77-38 with 7:36 remaining, and Justin Lucio added a free throw to give the Pirates their largest lead of the night at 86-45 with 2:06 on the clock. The Pirates went on to post the 86-51 victory.
Turner added 12 points and five rebounds and three assists while Jaelon LaGard came off the bench to shoot 5-7 from the floor for 10 points. Patton added nine points and five boards while Bailey netted seven points with nine caroms.
Ventura continues conference play on Wednesday Jan. 22 at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria. Tip-off is slated for 5:00 pm and the game will be followed by the VC women against Hancock at 7:00 pm.