The VC men's basketball team grabbed a share of the conference lead with an 88-69 win over Allan Hancock College Wednesday at the Athletic Event Center. Kai Johnson and Marcus Watson each dropped 20, Daniel Crocker scored 17 and Adrian McIntyre totaled 13 in the win over the Bulldogs. VC in now tied with Hancock atop the Western State Conference North with identical 5-1 league records through one round of play.
Ventura used an early 17-0 run to break the game wide open, turning a 4-4 deadlock into a 21-4 advantage. Anthony Garza made one of two free throws at the 16:58 mark of the opening period to begin the run and McIntyre scored on a lay-up the next time down the court. Johnson dropped a dime to Garza for two and McIntyre followed with another easy bucket. Crocker hit from range on the next trip, and McIntyre's steal and assist led to an and-one for Watson. Johnson scored on a putback and Garza's steal led to a McIntyre lay-up for the 21-4 margin with 12:35 on the clock.
The Pirates maintained the lead for the remainder of the half. Jeroe Bidlow turned Crocker's helper into two points and Crocker hitting another three and a two to extend the lead to 37-16 with 3:29 on the clock. AHC countered with an 8-0 run late in the half, but Watson ended the skid with a lay-up in the final minute. Ventura led 39-26 at halftime.
VC confirmed their control with a 9-2 run in the first three minutes of the final stanza. Watson scored on a drive and Johnson answered a Bulldog score with a deuce with help from McIntyre. Watson assisted a Crocker three, then Crocker followed with a pair of free throws to put Ventura ahead 48-28 with 17:10 left in the game. Watson later scored on back-to-back possessions for a 67-39 advantage at the 11:17 mark, the Pirates' largest lead of the night. Hancock tried to make a run late, but never closer than 16 points to the Pirates as they rolled to the 88-69 victory.
Crocker led a 31-29 VC advantage on the glass with 14 rebounds and Watson grabbed eight. McIntyre, Watson and Johnson all had four assists while McIntyre and Watson each grabbed a pair of steals. VC's offense limited itself to just five turnovers while the Pirate "D" generated 16 turnovers by the Bulldogs.
Ventura begins the second round of conference play on Saturday Jan. 28 hosting Oxnard at 7:00 pm. The game at the AEC will follow the VC women at 5:00 pm.