COC women’s basketball can’t hold onto lead down the stretch, fall to Ventura College

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GLENDALE — Canyons women’s basketball team traveled south to Glendale to face off against Ventura College in the Glendale College Holiday Tournament on Wednesday.

Trailing in the opening moments of the game, the Cougars were able to fight back and jumped out to a nine-point lead after the first quarter, but couldn’t hold on to the lead when it mattered most: at the end of the game.

The Cougars fell 68-64.

“I thought we played hard most of the time, but the game is not a 38-minute game,” said Canyons head coach Greg Herrick. “They won the last two minutes and that was enough. We played well up to the 38-minute mark, but our effort on defense in the last two minutes was terrible. We knew what they were going to do and we couldn’t stop them.”

Alexis Orellana and Cristian Patron finished with a team-high 17 points apiece to go along with five and seven rebounds, respectively.

Playing unselfish basketball, Canyons (8-6) was able to move the ball fluidly around the perimeter finding the open player for uncontested baskets.

Spotting the weakness for the Tigers, the Cougars pounded the ball inside, making it an emphasis to feed the ball down in the low post to Janeth Cruz.

“Our strategy going in worked,” Herrick said. “We got it into Janeth more often than normal because they don’t have any post defense, their idea of post defense is swarming the ball.”

Cruz finished the game hitting 6-of-11 shots from the field, recording a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

In the second half, Orellana looked determined to make the lead stick, driving into the lane without any fear or hesitation. Orellana scored 11 of the Cougars’ 13 in the third quarter.

Battling for every loose ball and contesting every shot, the Tigers (10-4) fought back to tie the game with under two minutes to go at 63-63 after Cece Quintino drove into the lane and dished it off to Robin Prince for the easy bucket.

After getting fouled, Cruz knocked down the front-end of two free throws to put Canyons ahead by one point.

On the next possession, Ventura’s Talia Taufaasau drove into the lane and was fouled with 35 seconds left on the clock. Knocking down both free throws, the Tigers regained the lead 65-64 and secured the win.

“We have lost six games, four of them we had the lead in the fourth quarter, Herrick said. “So this pattern is starting to take over. We have a saying in coaching. ‘You have to learn how to win,’ and we have to win one of these games. Tomorrow is a different opponent so it’s up to them to execute the plan.”

Canyons play again tomorrow in the Glendale College Tournament with game time and opponent to be announced.

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