Things did not look good for the Pirates Wednesday in Santa Barbara. Early in the second half the Vaqueros hit four straight 3-pointers to build a 54-40 lead before the VC reserve team of Victoria Maciel, Alyssandra Lacanilao, Kimora Pooler, Alaina Garcia and Emma Larson staged a comeback. The quintet outscored SBCC 16-2 over the next six minutes, and erased a seven point deficit in the fourth quarter, leading Ventura (18-6, 4-2) to a 77-68 victory over Santa Barbara.
Maciel led VC with her best game of the season, a 16-point performance on 5-7 shooting, including 3-4 from behind the 3-point line, to go along with five rebounds. Pooler had 13 points, including 7-8 at the free throw line, and seven rebounds while Lacanilao also had 13 points, nine in the decisive fourth quarter. Garcia finished with eight points in the game while Larson had six, including a huge three in the final minute. Together the VC bench outscored the Vaquero bench 56-13.
The game started out fast and furious as SBCC shot nearly 60 percent from the field in the opening quarter. The Pirates jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead on buckets by Cece Quintino, Talia Taufaasau and Madison Kast. Quintino made a lay-up with 2:42 left in the first for an 18-11 Ventura edge before Santa Barbara came roaring back. The Vaqueros scored nine points in three possessions to take a 20-18 lead before Maciel's old-fashioned 3-point play slowed the momentum. The teams traded scores over the final minute of the quarter before SBCC held a 24-23 margin at the buzzer.
The teams remained close in the second stanza, trading scores along the way. Garcia's 3-pointer with an assist by Lacanilao gave the Pirates the 31-30 edge at the 6:11 mark, but SBCC came back with a three to retake the lead. SBCC eventually built a six-point advantage near the end of the period, but Kast's inside score in the final minute made it 42-38 at halftime. All told there were three ties and nine lead changes in the intense, physical opening 20 minutes.
As if the excitement of the first half was not sufficient, the real drama began in the third quarter. SBCC opened the scoring with a three that was quickly answered with a lay-up by Taufaasau. The Vaqueros countered with three more makes from range, however, to build a 54-40 advantage with 7:39 still remaining in the period. After a Ventura timeout, the reserve group came in and promptly pumped life into the Pirates with a Maciel three with an assist to Pooler. After another Santa Barbara bucket, Maciel scored a lay-up to begin a 13-0 run for VC. Lacanilao turned a steal into a fast break score and Maciel came out of a timeout cashing in Garcia's dime for another triple. Pooler turned a big offensive rebounds into two more points, then calmly made a pair of free throws to narrow the deficit to two. Garcia finished the run with two free shots and the game was tied at 56 with 1:29 left in the period.Santa Barbara finally responded with the final six points of the quarter, and Ventura trailed 62-56 headed to the fourth.
Ventura went nearly four minutes into the final stanza before scoring a point, fortunately, the Santa Barbara offense had also gone cold, making just a single free throw to extend the margin to seven, 63-56. Larson made one of two charity shots, and Pooler went coast-to-coast after a steal to close the gap before the Vaqueros hit one final three to make it 66-59 with 5:39 remaining. Lacanilao converted a strong left-handed drive into a lay-up at the 5:15 mark to begin the final comeback for VC. Maciel followed with a three from Lacanilao's helper and Larson had a steal to a fast break, hitting Lacanilao for the two to tie the score at 66 with 3:28 on the clock. Pooler made a free shot, and Lacanilao splashed a big-tim three from the top of the key for a four-point Pirate edge with 2:04 left to play. The Vaqueros made a pair of free shots before Larson nailed her big shot from downtown to put the game away, 73-68, with 1:25 left. The Pirates hit all four of their free throw opportunities in the final minute to close the books on the dramatic 77-68 win.
Kast had eight points and eight rebounds for Ventura while Quintino also totaled eight points. But the game belonged to the "second" five, including Lacanilao who added six rebounds and three assists to her point total. VC outrebounded the Vaqueros 46-30 and the Pirates shot 23-31 (74 percent) from the foul line in the physical contest. Ventura outscored Santa Barbara 21-6 in the final period.
Ventura next travels to face Moorpark on Saturday Feb. 15. Tip-off at Raider Pavilion is scheduled for 1:00 pm.