Persistence paid off the the VC men's basketball team Wednesday night as they came back from a 16-point second half deficit to defeat Allan Hancock College 83-82 in Santa Maria. The Pirates trailed 57-41 with 16:56 remaining in the game, and were behind by 11, 74-63, at the 6:36 mark before making the comeback. Keron Bailey took a Timothy Turner pass and converted it to a driving bucket with four seconds remaining in the game for the final margin of victory. Turner led Ventura (11-9, 2-0) with 23 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The first three minutes of the game had four lead changes. Turner hit a lay-up to put VC ahead 5-4 before the Bulldogs went on a 12-0 run over the next two minutes to take control at 17-5 with 15:01 left in the first half. The margin remained around the 10-point mark for much of the first half, until Tone Patton had a dunk followed by one of two free throws to bring it back to seven,27-20, with 6:41 left in the half. A lay-up by Thomas Dangerfield cut it to 29-23 on the next possession, but Hancock was able to recover and expand the lead back to 12, 46-34, at halftime with a buzzer-beating 25-footer.
The Bulldogs, who came into the game ranked No. 12 in the state, continued to lead the Pirates into the final period. Patton had a lay-up and a three to start the second half, pulling VC back to within 46-39, but AHC responded with three shots from range to expand the lead to 16, 55-39, barely a minute later. They maintained the 16-point advantage through the 16:56 mark before the Pirates began a slow and steady comeback. The deficit remained in double figures, however, even when Bailey hit a pair of free shots halfway through the period to make it a 56-46 game. Every run the Pirates made at the Bulldogs, Hancock was able to counter, and the deficit was still in double-figures, 74-63, with 6:36 left to play.
Bailey and Turner made consecutive lay-ups, and Jelani Bell followed with an old-fashioned 3-point play to bring VC to within 74-70 with 4:34 on the clock. The deficit remained around that mark for the next three minutes until VC trailed 82-77 with 1:08 remaining. Bailey converted a Turner dime into two, then Bell hit a runner to cut the deficit to one, 82-81, with nine seconds left. After a quick VC foul, Hancock missed the front end of a 1-and-1, with Turner grabbing the board. He then drove the length of the court, finding Bailey on the left side for a driving lay-up for an 83-82 Ventura advantage with four seconds remaining. AHC called a timeout with 1.9 on the clock, and they were fouled by the Pirates on the inbounds play. The Bulldogs missed another free throw, but the rebound went off a VC player with 1.0 on the clock. The Pirate defense tipped two inbounds passes before the Bulldogs missed on a tip attempt to preserve the VC victory.
Five Pirates scored in double-figures, led by Turner and 15 points each from Bell and Dangerfield, who also had seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Bailey finished with 14 points and five rebounds while Patton ended with 10 points.
VC next travels to Oxnard College on saturday Jan. 26. Tip-off is slated for 1:00 pm in the matinee affair at the Condor's Nest.