The VC women's basketball team used a late rally Wednesday afternoon to come back and defeat College of the Canyons 68-64 in the opening round of the Glendale College Holiday Tournament. VC (10-4) trailed 62-54 with 3:00 remaining before making the come back. Robin Prince rallied the Pirates with a pair of late buckets inside, Emma Larson had a big three, while Talia Taufaasau and Cece Quintino closed things out at the free throw line. Ventura plays LA Trade Tech in the tournament semifinals Thursday Dec. 20 at 3:00 pm.
Ventura got off to a fast start with LaDaesha Merriweather leading the way on the offensive and defensive glass. She scored on a putback on VC's first possession, and her offensive board led to a Quintino bucket on the second. Merriweather cleaned the defensive boards leading to another score by Quintino and the Pirates led 6-0 barely a minute in. Victoria Maciel answered a CoC 3-point play with a drive and score for an 8-3 advantage at the 7:21 mark before the team went ice cold. Ventura went 5:31 without a field goal as the Cougars went on a 14-1 run to take command of the game. Canyons led 20-11 at the quarter break.
Canyons stretched their advantage to 13 points on two occasions in the second period. Trailing 26-13 with 4:03 remaining until halftime, the Pirates scored he next five points beginning what would become a cat-and-mouse game for the rest of the afternoon. Taufaasau hit a pair of charity tosses and Quintino hit a three and two free throws, followed by a 3-pointer from Madison Cvijanovich to close the gap to five, 28-23, with 1:03 on the clock. Canyons countered with a 6-0 run to push the lead back to double-figures before VC closed the half with a Larson deuce and two charity tosses from Taufaasau. Ventura trailed at the break, 34-27.
The game fluctuated between seven and 11 points throughout the third quarter before Quintino's field goal at the 1:21 mark made it a six point spread. Taufaasau then hit a free throw in the final minute to make the count 47-42 for the Cougars at the quarter break.
Canyons reasserted control with four straight points to open the final stanza. They built the lead back to 11 points with 6:35 remaining before Taufaasau sandwiched a pair of triples around a Quintino bucket and a Cougar deuce to pull VC to within 59-54 a minute later. Canyons hit from range at the 3:00 mark to extend the lead back to eight points, setting up the Pirate comeback.
Quintino started the comeback with a jumper, followed by a putback by Prince with 2:09 on the clock. Canyons made one of two free shots to extend the advantage back to 63-58 before Taufaasau found Larson alone at the top of the key for a huge 3-point basket with a minute remaining. On the next possession, Quintino split a pair of defenders with a pass to Prince for a lay-up and a 63-63 score with 44.6 on the clock. CoC hit one of two free throws on the other end to retake the lead before Taufaasau nailed two charity tosses for a 65-64 Pirate advantage with 35 seconds left. The Pirates closed out the game with a pair of defensive stops followed by free throws by Taufaasau and Quintino, respectively, to set the final 68-64 margin.
Quintino led all scorers with 24 points to go along with eight rebounds while Taufaasau netted 20 points with six boards and four assists. Larson had a season-high nine points with six rebounds and Merriweather finished with four points and 10 caroms. Prince had four points and three rebounds in her time late in the game.
The Pirates advance to the tournament semifinals Thursday Dec. 20. They will take on Los Angeles Trade Tech at 3:00 pm in Glendale. VC fell to the Beavers 66-50 on Dec. 9 in the finals of the LA Valley Tournament.