Cougars win by 15 points
A second half surge broke open a close game and guided Taft College to a 73-58 Central Valley Conference women's basketball victory over visiting West Hills-Lemoore.
The home win Saturday night snapped a three-game road loss streak to improve TC to 2-3 in the conference and 7-13 overall.
After the Cougars charged out to a 14-4 lead, the Golden Eagles fought back to keep it close through the rest of the first half. Taft led 34-27 at the break.
Lemoore, in its inaugural season for women's basketball, turned the tables with a 12-4 run to start the second half and take the lead at 41-38.
That's when Cougar head coach Tyrone Taylor called a time out.
"At the beginning of the second half we had a little letdown," he said. "We changed things a little and came out of the timeout a little more ready to play."
For one thing, the Cougars switched to a man-to-man defense and pressured the Golden Eagles.
That strategy ignited an 8-1 run that gave the lead back to Taft, and when the surge was over the Cougars had outscored the Golden Eagles 22-7 and built a commanding 60-48 lead.
Seven of the team's eight players scored during the run.
Ramonique Redding, a freshman guard from Mira Monte High in Bakersfield, got things started with back-to-back buckets and sophomore Schalon Baysinger wrapped it up by scoring twice in the paint.
The Cougars were without the services of 6-foot-2 center Bezait Anbesse, who is sidelined with an ankle injury.
"We had to go with a smaller lineup," Taylor said. "I think it benefited us scoring-wise. We also took better care of the ball."
Freshman guard Erica Evans paved the way with a game-high 20 points and 7 rebounds.
Zanoria Echols scored 17 points with 3 rebounds, Redding had 13 points with 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots, Crystallyn Faletoi 9 points and 7 rebounds, and Baysinger 8 points and 7 rebounds.
Airiyana Brown had 4 points and 3 rebounds, Shelly Gill 2 points and a rebound and Mylasia Smith 7 rebounds.
The Cougars host perennial conference champion Fresno City College Wednesday at 5 p.m. The Rams are undefeated in conference and ranked No. 2 in the state.