One benchmark of a successful season in basketball is a team reaching 20 wins. With their 69-58 victory at Santa Barbara City College Saturday night, the Pirates' women's basketball team reached 20 wins for the season, for the 30th straight year. Talia Taufaasau netted 24 points with seven assists and LaDaesha Merriweather posted a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead VC (20-8, 5-1) to the wire-to-wire victory.
In the 1989-90 season, the Pirates under head coach George Valenzuela posted a season mark of 23-9. It was the program's fifth 20-win season in nine years, and the first since 1986-87. That began a streak of 20+ win seasons that has continued under head coach Ned Mircetic, reaching an even 30 straight years on Saturday night.
The Pirates led wire-to-wire with Taufaasau scoring on the first two possessions of the game. Merriweather scored on the next and VC led 6-2 in the early going. Santa Barbara missed 13 straight shots in the first period following their first score, and the Pirates slowly took advantage. After a three-plus minute scoreless streak, Cece Quintino netted a deuce for VC. A minute later she had a steal and lay-up, and Robin Fallandy's jumper off an Emma Larson assist made it 14-4. Victoria Maciel and Quintino closed the period with back-to-back three's and Ventura led 20-6 at the end of one quarter.
In the second period, the Pirates were able to maintain their advantage somewhat despite the Vaqueros best efforts to draw the game closer. The lead expanded to 16 points, 27-11, at the 6:27 mark on a lay-up by Taufaasau before SBCC made a run. The Vaqueros used a 10-0 run to close to within six points with 4:13 remaining before scored seven straight to regain control. Merriweather had a pair of buckets and a free throw during the run and the Pirates led 34-23 at halftime.
Ventura extended the lead back to 14 points early in the third, with Quintino and Merriweather taking turns scoring. Merriweather's inside score from a Taufaasau assist made it 42-28 with 7:50 remaining in the period. When Robin Prince made a lay-up four minutes later, VC held a 49-33 advantage with 4:07 on the clock. Taufaasau dropped a dime to Fallandy at the 3:26 mark to put VC ahead by 17 points, 53-36. The Vaqueros remained tough, however, using the three-ball to stay in the game. SBCC hit 11 triples in the game, nine in the second half, as they hit a pair from range down the stretch to close to within 53-42 headed to the final stanza.
SBCC hit another pair of 3-pointers to narrow the gap to five, 53-48, two minutes into the fourth, but Taufaasau was able to stop the bleeding by making a pair of free throws. Quintino followed with a jumper and Taufaasau hit from behind the arc and the Pirates returned the lead to 10 points, 60-50. Another Vaquero three and two charity tosses closed the gap back to five points with 4:09 on the clock when Maciel received a pass from Taufaasau on the left wing, hitting a crucial 3-pointer. the Pirates hit six of eight free throws in the final minute to post the 69-58 victory.
Quintino finished the game with 16 points and five rebounds. Prince came off the bench to hit a pair of crucial shots in the second half and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds. the Pirates outrebounded the Vaqueros 42-24 in the game.
The Pirates will next host Allan Hancock College on Wednesday Feb. 13. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 pm following the VC men's game at 5:00 pm.