After playing 15 straight on the road, the Cougar women’s basketball team will christen the Central Valley Conference season Wednesday by hosting Reedley College.
Tip-off in the Al Baldock Cougar Sports Center is at 5 p.m.
The Cougars took the holiday break off and returned to action last Friday in Sacramento by losing an 86-67 non-conference game to Cosumnes River College, one of the top teams in the Big 8 Conference with a 10-3 record.
Taft had not played since Dec. 15 and the three-week layoff showed.
The team was rusty and ran out of gas in the second half.
That is, everyone except freshman guard Erica Evans.
She led all scorers with 34 points despite missing a month of practice with a leg injury.
“This was Erica’s first game back, and she did really well considering how long she sat out,” said assistant coach Karaya Gage.
Evans was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 18.5 points a game, when she went down with an injury in a tournament in Salinas.
In her return engagement she hit 10-of-19 field goals, including 6-of-11 from three-point range. She also made 8-of-9 free-throws.
Rust and fatigue were TC’s primary enemies.
“Turnovers were our biggest issue with not a lot of pressure by CRC,” she said. “It was also our first game back from break so I’m going to assume that we just haven’t got our full game back on yet. Looking for a much better outcome on Wednesday.”
The Cougars committed 24 turnovers.
They also got tired in the second half.
The halftime score was close: Cosumnes River 40, Taft 38.
But the Hawks ran away in the second half, outscoring the Cougars 46-29.
Zanoria Echols scored 8 points, Ramonique Redding 7 and Mylasia Smith 6.
It also marked the first game back for sophomore guard Schalon Baysinger, who suffered a leg injury shortly after Evans went down. Baysinger scored 4 points.
Crystallyn Faletoi led Cougar rebounders with 6, Shelly Gill had 5 and Bezait Anbesse and Smith 4 each.
The Cougars head into conference play with a 5-10 record.
Reedley will come to town with a 6-8 record.
Defending champ Fresno, ranked No. 1 in northern California and No. 4 in the state, is the easy favorite to repeat.
The Rams are 15-3 heading into conference play after beating Feather River College 95-41 and College of the Siskiyous 72-59 over the weekend.
In other weekend action involving Central Valley Conference teams, Porterville College lost to Siskiyous 92-41 and to Feather River 72-59 in conference crossover games. Foothill beat Merced 58-56.
Other CVC teams and their non-conference records: College of the Sequoias 8-6, Merced 8-8, West Hills-Lemoore 3-10, Porterville 3-11.