The Ventura College women's basketball team used a strong third quarter to rally past visiting Santa Barbara 64-51 Saturday at the Athletic Event Center in the Western State Conference opener for both teams. Talia Taufaasau had 24 points and five assists, playing all 40 minutes for Ventura while Victoria Maciel also played without a break contributing 18 points and five rebounds. LaDaesha Merriweather posted her second straight double-double with 13 points and 12 boards for the Pirates (16-7, 1-0). Robin Prince ended the game with five points and nine big rebounds.
Taufaasau sandwiched a pair of lay-ups around a Merriweather turn-around jumper for an early 6-0 advantage for the Pirates. SBCC countered with a 10-1 run over the next two-plus minutes and the Vaqueros led 10-7. Maciel hit a pair of charity shots to stop the run, but SBCC continued to lead 15-10 with 2:42 left in the opening period. Two Taufaasau free throws, a 3-pointer from Maciel quickly tied the game at 15 before another Taufaasau lay-up put Ventura back ahead. Santa Barbara countered with a triple in the final minute of the stanza for an 18-17 lead at the quarter break.
The teams traded scores throughout the second period, with the margin never rising past the Vaqueros' four-point 23-19 margin with 8:20 on the clock. Maciel scored the next four points and Prince converted an offensive rebound for two and the Pirates regained a 25-23 advantage. There were three ties and two lead changes heading into intermission, and Santa Barbara led 30-29 at halftime.
Ventura put the fun back in the game in the third quarter, scoring on their first five possessions of the half. Taufaasau started things off with a steal and lay-up, then Maciel had a theft that resulted in Emma Larson's assist to Merriweather for two. Merriweather's offensive rebound led to a triple by Maciel, and Taufaasau hit a jumper on the next trip down the floor. Maciel finished the 12-0 run converting a Prince helper into another make from range and Ventura led 41-30 less than three minutes into the third quarter. Santa barbara tried to get back into the game with their own 8-0 run, but Prince hit from deep and Merriweather had an old-fashioned 3-point play to extend the advantage back to nine, 47-38, with 3:46 on the clock. Taufaasau then converted back-to-back buckets before SBCC ended the quarter with a three, making it 51-41 heading into the final 10 minutes.
Madison Cvijanovich started out the final period with a scooping left-hand lay-up, and the Pirates were able to hold off any and all charges from the Vaqueros down the stretch. Santa Barbara's closest advance with to within six points, 57-51, but a Taufaasau dime to Merriweather ended that threat with 2:37 remaining. Larson connected on two foul shots, and Taufaasau hit three of four charity shots in the final minute in the 64-51 victory.
Ventura continues WSC play on Wednesday Jan. 22 at Allan Hancock College in Santa maria. The game with the Bulldogs is slated to begin at 7:00 pm and follows the VC-AHC men's game at 5:00 pm.