Ventura College guard Cece Quintino had a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds Friday night, including eight points in the fourth quarter, leading four teammates in double figures as the Pirates' women's basketball team defeated visiting Rio Hondo 60-49 in the CCCAA Southern California Regional Playoffs. Talia Taufaasau had 15 points and six assists as the Pirates (24-9) advanced to the California Sweet 16 for the 22nd time in the past 29 years under head coach Ned Mircetic.
Ventura dug themselves into a 6-0 hole early, misfiring on their first six shot attempts. Larson's steal led to a Merriweather lay-up at the 5:18 mark of the first quarter as the Pirates got onto the board. The VC defense held the Roadrunners scoreless for the final 6:46 of the period as the offense got untracked. Quintino assisted a three from Taufaasau with 2:49 on the clock, giving the Pirates their first lead of the night, 8-6, and Merriweather's jumper made it 10-6 at the quarter break.
After a Rio Hondo triple, the Pirates went on a 14-2 run over nearly five minutes of game time to open up a 24-11 advantage at the 4:16 mark of the second period. Larson anchored the run with a pair of 3-pointers while Taufaasau hit two short jumpers and two free throws over that span. Rio Hondo answered the run with a pair of three's before the Pirates ended the half on a 6-0 run. Merriweather had a pair of buckets and Taufaasau scored on a drive and the Pirates led 30-17 at halftime.
Larson nailed her third trey of the game to open the third quarter expanding the VC advantage to 16 points. The Roadrunners kept up the fight from that point but the Pirates were able to keep them at arm's length for the remainder of the evening. VC maintained their double-digit lead for much of the quarter, seeing it cut to eight points with 2:06 left in the stanza. Ventura responded appropriately with buckets by Merriweather and Quintino to close the period ahead 46-34.
Rio Hondo stayed with the fight throughout he final period, by the Pirates were just too much on this night. With the lead down to seven points, 51-44, with 3:48 remaining in the game, A Taufaasau free throw, a Quintino runner and a three from the left corner by Victoria Maciel shut the door on the Roadrunners, giving VC a 57-44 lead with 2:17 remaining. Rio Hondo hit a pair of baskets late to set the final margin at 60-49.
Ventura moves on to the Southern California Regional Finals to be held Saturday March 9. The Pirates will play the winner of the Irvine Valey-Mt. San Antonio game to be played Saturday March 2 at Mt. SAC. Tip-off on March 9 will be at 7:00 pm with a location to be determined.