Taft College got some much-needed consistency with its offense Monday in Santa Maria to earn its first victory of the young basketball season – 57-51 over Allan Hancock College.
With the win, the Cougars are 1-3 after a busy start. They played four games in four days beginning with a tournament at Pasadena City College.
“We really got off to a slow start,” head coach Tyrone Taylor said. “We have a very young team, and we couldn’t get our offense going at all in the first game.”
But the Cougars improved with each game against ranked opponents.
The Cougars were pounded by Cypress 82-36 in the opener and thumped by Irvine Valley 72-30 before shaking off the jitters in a 67-53 loss to Southwestern.
“We have six freshmen who came out with a lot of nervousness,” Taylor said. “With each game we looked a little better. In the final game we got a lot better at attacking the basket.”
After the three-day trip to Pasadena, the Cougars came home Sunday night and bussed to the coast on Monday where their improvement continued.
Five-foot-seven freshman guard Erica Evans from Rancho Cucamonga poured in 29 points to lead the Cougars over Hancock. She also pulled down three rebounds.
She was the only player in double figures. The rest of the scoring was spread out with all 10 players seeing action.
Sophomore center Bezait Anbesse led Cougar rebounders with seven.
Zanoria Echols had 6 points and 5 rebounds, Airiyana Brown 6 points and 2 rebounds, center Crystallyn Faletoi 5 points and 4 rebounds, Ramonique Redding 4 points and 5 rebounds, Schalon Baysinger 4 points and 2 rebounds, Shelly Gill 2 points and 4 rebounds, and Myulasia Smith 3 rebounds.
The only sophomores are Baysinger, Echols, Anbesse and Gill.
Baysinger is the student body president.
The Cougars have a new assistant coach this year.
Karaya Gage, who played for the Cougars from 2003-05 under current Cal State Bakersfield women’s coach Greg McCall, has returned as a coach.
She played two years at Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock and coached there the past three years.
“I’m pretty excited to be back at Taft College,” she said.
The Cougars will be road warriors until Central Valley Conference action begins on Jan. 9 when Reedley College comes to town.
Until then, the Cougars will play in three tournaments (Ventura, Salinas and San Diego) with single games at Bakersfield College, Southwestern and Cosumnes River.
The team practices at 5 a.m. since the Cougar volleyball team has dibs on the gym in the afternoon.