From the beginning of the game, the Pirates' women's basketball team overwhelmed visiting Ohlone College in the opening round of the VC-Kiwanis Tournament of Champions Friday at the Athletic Event Center. After racing out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter, VC (3-1) went on to post the 87-25 victory over the Renegades on Black Friday. Cece Quintino had 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds to lead the way while Nikki Puga totaled 15 points with five made 3-pointers. Victoria Maciel posted an efficient 14 points with nine field goal attempts.
Ventura was never threatened, racing to a 20-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game. LaDaesha Merriweather scored eight of her 10 points on the night in that span, while Puga and Maciel each connected from range. Quintino handed out four dimes as Puga's triple at the 4:35 mark of the first quarter ended the run. A 3-pointer from Talia Taufaasau, another bucket inside by Merriweather, and a putback by Cameran Bahnsen, who was seeing her first action of the season, closed out the scoring for the first period. VC led at the break, 27-3.
The rout continued in the second stanza, as five different Pirates scored in VC's 11-0 run to begin the period. Bahnsen connected after another offensive rebound and Robin Prince connected inside off a pass from Emma Larson. Quintino assisted a Maciel jumper, then converted her own shot off an offensive rebound. Finally, a Larson pass led to a three by Puga for a 38-3 Ventura advantage with 7:00 remaining in the half. Quintino bunched three 3-pointers around a Colleen Clow bucket, and Maciel converted Quintino's dime and VC led 57-16 at halftime.
Ventura's offense cooled down a bit in the second half, but the defense began to heat up. The Pirates held Ohlone scoreless in the third period, the third shutout quarter since 2015-16 when quarters were first instituted in women's basketball. (The other two were both last season, against Cuesta on Feb. 7 and against Oxnard on Feb. 14.) Tuafaasau handed out three assists in the period, and Madison Cvijanovich handed a dime to Puga for a three to make it 73-16 at the quarter break.
Prince sandwiched a lay-up ad two free throws around another Puga three and the Renegades' scoreless streak in the second half nearly reached 15 minutes before the finally found the bottom of the net with 5:19 left to play. Ventura wa able to substitute freely down the stretch, giving many players opportunities at game experience as they rode the momentum to the 87-25 win.
Merriweather finished with 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Larson pulled in seven boards with three assists while Taufaasau offset a difficult shooting night with six steals, five assists and four boards. Seeing her first action of the season due to lingering injuries, Bahnsen was 3-4 from the floor for six points with three rebounds in six minutes of action. Clow, Cvijanovich and Robin Fallandy all pulled in five rebounds each in the victory.
Other scores from the first day of the Tournament of Champions included Santa Monica over Long Beach 57-53, Canyons over Taft, 94-47, and Mt. San Antonio over Laney, 75-45. Saturday's action will feature Long Beach versus Ohlone, and Taft against Laney in the consolation semifinals before Mt. San Antonio takes on Canyons at 5:00 pm, and VC battles Santa Monica at 7:00 pm in the championship semifinals.