The Pirates' women's basketball team continued a familiar story Saturday, advancing to their 12th straight VC-Kiwanis Tournament of Champions final with a 66-41 victory over Santa Monica Saturday night. Cece Quintino netted 21 points with eight rebounds, Nikki Puga came off the bench for 19 big points and Emma Larson pulled in a game-high 11 boards to key the victory. VC (4-1) will take on Mt. San Antonio College on Sunday in the ToC championship game at 4:00 pm at the Athletic Event Center.
Santa Monica held the upper hand early before Quintino and Puga each splashed threes for a 7-6 VC advantage. Puga and Victoria Maciel then hit back-to-back shots from range,and Cameran Bahnsen converted Maciel's assist into two points to complete an 11-0 run to close the first quarter.
The Corsairs ended their seven-plus minute scoring drought at the 8:15 mark of the second period, and they closed to within 15-10 on the next possession when Talia Taufaasau continued the Pirates' three-parade from a Quintino assist. Cece then drove the paint for an easy bucket, cashed in Taufaasau's dime for another triple, and drove coast to coast off a defensive rebound to give the Pirates a 25-13 advantage with 5:31 remaining in the half. VC went cold at that point, and could not find the bottom of the net for the remainder of the period, taking a 25-18 lead into halftime.
After a SMC made a bucket to open the third quarter, the Pirates' offense got untracked. LaDaesha Merriweather made a putback off an offensive rebound, and Maciel connected from range off an assist by Larson. Two Quintino free throws and a Larson pass to Colleen Clow for an easy bucket extended the Ventura advantage to 34-20 just over three minutes into the stanza. Later in the period, Puga and Larson had back-to-back three's, and Bahnsen scored inside off Quintino's helper for a 47-26 Pirate lead at the quarter break.
the Pirates put the game away early in the final quarter as they began to break down the Corsairs' defense and get to the rim. Puga, Quintino and Taufaasau each got inside for lay-ups, Quintino hit another drive, then short jumper for a 55-26 advantage. The three Pirate guards each scored one more bucket to complete a 21-0 Ventura run for a 64-27 lead halfway through the quarter. The Pirates were able to empty the bench for the second straight night in coasting to the 66-41 win.
Taufaasau finished with eight points and three assists and Merriweather pulled in nine rebounds. Robin Prince came in to record five rebounds and Maciel had six boards.
VC advances to the tournament's championship game for the 12th straight season. Ventura will be looking for its seventh ToC title in the 21-year history of the tournament. The Pirates last captured the crown in 2013. Tip-off against Mt. San Antonio College is slated for 4:00 pm at the Athletic Event Center.