Ventura College Athletics

Pirate Defense Stifles Visiting Cuesta

VC guard Nikki Puga had 19 points, including five 3-pointers, as the Pirates cruised past Cuesta 70-22 Wednesday night at the Athletic Event Center. (photo by Felix Cortez)
VC guard Nikki Puga had 19 points, including five 3-pointers, as the Pirates cruised past Cuesta 70-22 Wednesday night at the Athletic Event Center. (photo by Felix Cortez)

Women's college basketball has been playing games with four quarters for almost three seasons, and for the first time Wednesday night, the Pirate defense held an opponent scoreless. Ventura's defense shut out the visiting Cuesta Cougars in the second period, leading VC to a 70-22 victory. Nikki Puga led the Pirates (21-6, 7-0) with her first career double-double, scoring 19 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Celeste Salazar had 12 points on four 3-pointers and pulled in six boards in the VC win.

THe outcome of the game was never in doubt as the Pirates climbed to a 7-0 and 12-2 lead early. Celeste Salazar opened the scoring with a three, then assisted a lay-up by Melissa Ohmie. Davina Del Castillo and Jasmyne Martin also netted field goals before Salazar hit from beyond the arc once again for the 10-point cushion with 4:33 left in the opening period.  The VC offense cooled off at that point, going over four minutes without a score until Del Castillo's bucket made it 14-4 at the end of the stanza.

In the second quarter, Ventura struggled holding on to the ball, committing six turnovers in the period, but when they did shoot it had a good chance of going in.  VC was 5-10 from the floor in the stanza, including 4-7 from three.  Meanwhile, the defense put a lid over the basket, forcing the Cougars into an 0-13 shooting performance and setting a program record that will never be broken in the process. Puga opened the Ventura scoring with a triple with 8:18 on the clock, and VC then went nearly five minutes without a point. Ohmie made a lay-up off a Del Castillo dime, then Alaina Garcia sandwiched two treys around a 3-pointer by Puga to put the Pirates ahead 28-4 at halftime. The four points allowed in the first half by VC also tied a program mark, most recently set in 1996 and 2006.

Martin returned from early foul trouble to lead a 29-point explosion for the Pirates in the third quarter. As a team, VC was 11-12 from the floor during the period, with Martin totaling nine of her 11 points on 4-4 shooting. She also handed out three assists, playing a part in seven of VC's 11 buckets. Ohmie and Martin started things off with back-to-back 3-point plays, and Martin followed with another basket. Cuesta finally scored with 8:18 on the clock, ending a 14-minute scoreless drought.  It was to no avail, however, as the Pirate express kept moving, posting a 57-13 lead at the quarter break.

The fourth period was all academic for VC, as they rolled to the 70-22 victory.

Garcia totaled 10 points, giving Ventura four players in double-figures, and Ohmie finished with nine. Del Castillo had 10 rebounds and Talitha Draper finished with five points and six caroms.  Avery Brunk totaled five boards. Martin led the team dropping four dimes.

Ventura will be at home on Saturday Feb. 10, hosting cross-county rival Moorpark.  Tip-off against the Raiders is slated for 5:00 pm.  It is also the night of the 19th Annual Basketball Barbeque Fundraiser, with tri-tip and chicken dinners being served in the VC Cafeteria beginning at 4:00 pm.