No. 11 Ventura leaves Santa Barbara with victory over Vaqueros

No. 11 Ventura leaves Santa Barbara with victory over Vaqueros

CCCAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Scoreboard l Standings

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Its almost never easy when the Ventura College women's basketball team visits Santa Barbara, and Saturday night's contest at the SBCC Sports Pavilion was no exception. Nikki Puga came off the bench with a game-high 21 points and Davina Del Castillo posted her 13th double-double of the year with 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Pirates to a hard-fought 71-64 victory. Jasmyne Martin added 19 points as the Pirates (18-6, 4-0) remained perfect in Western State Conference North Division play.

As has been the case the past several games, the Pirates opened the game in a hole, falling behind 5-0 and 10-6 early in the first period. A 3-point play by Del Castillo and a three from Puga brought VC back to a 10-10 tie halfway through the stanza. Puga's second triple gave the Pirates an 18-12 advantage and they led 18-14 at the end of the period.

Del Castillo made another old-fashioned 3-point play and Puga converted another shot from range to make it 24-16 with 7:39 left in the half. Puga then hit one of two free throws, then made a lay-up to stretch the lead to nine, 27-18. SBCC scored the next seven points to close to within 27-25 before Martin hit two charity tosses and a field goal. Del Castillo followed with a free shot and a triple and Ventura led 35-25 with 3:39 on the clock. Talitha Draper scored five of VC's next seven points as the Pirates took a 42-32 lead into halftime.

VC went on an 8-0 run to begin the third quarter with Del Castillo nailing a trey and a deuce, followed by a 3-point play by Martin. The Vaqueros answered back, however, sandwiching a pair of 3-pointers around a Martin lay-up as they narrowed the margin back to 14 points. By the end of the period, Santa Barbara had battled back to within 11, 56-45.

Ventura maintained its advantage through the final period despite a strong comeback effort by the Vaqueros. After an SBCC bucket and free throw, Salazar converted a drive for a lay-up to stretch the lead back to double figures, 58-48. Puga answered a Santa Barbara field goal with a three and the Pirates held a 61-48 lead with 7:02 remaining. She followed that up with a nice drive for two and the lead was back to 13 points. After closing back to 10 points, Santa Barbara began to foul with around two minutes remaining in the game, and the Pirates made just enough to keep the Vaqueros at bay. Martin split two pairs of charity tosses, and Puga also made one of two as VC held on to a 66-57 lead with just over a minute remaining. Martin then hit a pair of charity tosses to stem the tide, and Elissa Root, Salazar and Puga all made enough free shots down the stretch to hold on to the 71-64 win.

Draper and Melissa Ohmie each pulled down six rebounds for VC and Salazar handed out four assists. Puga and Martin each dropped three dimes. Salazar also produced three steals for Ventura.

The Pirates next travel to San Luis Obispo to take on Cuesta College on Wednesday Jan. 31. Tip-off against the Cougars is slated for 5:00 pm.

(Ventura College Athletics)