The Ventura College women's basketball team put together their best overall effort of the young season, posting a 74-52 victory Friday over Reedley College to advance to the semifinals of the Tom Gilcrest Invitational at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia. Talia Taufaasau had a career night , shooting 8-16 from the floor, 3-8 from three, and 9-10 at the foul line for 30 points. Cece Quintino netted 21 and LaDaesha Merriweather posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. VC (6-2) will take on host Sequoias at 8:00 pm Saturday in the tournament semifinals.
The Pirates started the game off right with a deuce from Taufaasau and a three from Victoria Maciel for an early 5-0 lead. Emma Larson's 3-pointer from Maciel's assist made it 11-4 midway through the first period, and Merriweather followed with eight of the next 12 Ventura points. Taufaasau closed out the period with a long-range bucket and VC led the Tigers 26-14 at the quarter break.
Taufaasau continued the heat early in the second, hitting another triple from a Madison Cvijanovich helper, and Quintino's cool jumper made it 31-14 with 8:54 left in the half. Ventura battled foul trouble throughout the second quarter, but still managed to maintain their double-digit lead. Taufaasau made four free throws in the final 22 seconds as VC led at intermission, 43-33.
The Pirates extended their lead back to 13 points early in the second half when Taufaasau hit again from range before Reedley started a comeback. The Tigers outscored the Pirates 13-4 over the next 5:27 of game time to pull within 50-46 at the 2:24 mark. Larson assisted a 3-pointer on the left wing by Quintino, and followed with a pair of free throws to turn back the Reedley charge. Taufaasau then nailed two free shots and dropped a dime to Quintino for a rare 4-point play. Quintino then stole the ensuing inbounds pass as the quarter came to a close, and after a missed shot, Merriweather hustled for the offensive rebound, dishing to Cvijanovich who was fouled at the buzzer. She made one of two free throws to put VC ahead 62-46 at the quarter break, closing on a 12-0 run over the final 1:44 of the stanza.
The Pirates maintained their advantage through the final period. Merriweather had an offensive rebound and putback, and Taufaasau turned Quintino's assist into three more points. Reedley pulled to within 57-41 at the 4:56 mark, but a Merriweather inside bucket and another three from Taufaasau closed the door on the Tigers. Taufaasau had one final lay-up to set the final 74-52 margin.
Taufaasau added eight rebounds and three assists to her career stat line while Quintino had nine boards, five dimes and three steals. Cvijanovich added four rebounds off the bench for the Pirates. As a team, VC shot 45 percent from the floor (25-55) and hit nine 3-pointers while turning the ball over just 12 times.
Ventura advances to the Gilcrest Invitational semifinals for the third straight season. VC will battle host Sequoias at 8:00 pm on Saturday Dec. 1 in Visalia.