Taft College worked hard to reel in high energy Merced College in Wednesday night’s Central Valley Conference basketball game but collapsed in the final four minutes of a 65-50 loss.
After Erica Evans completed a three-point play with 4:22 left, the Cougars had whittled what was once a 14-point deficit to just six points.
TC had a chance to cut the lead to four but missed a lay-up that the Blue Devils rebounded and set off on a 12-0 run that buried the Cougars.
“Turnovers and missed lay-ups killed us,” head coach Tyrone Taylor said.
TC committed a rash of turnovers during Merced’s final run.
Evans’s three-pointer just before the final buzzer ended misery.
“We played good in the first half with tight defense,” Taylor said.
After trailing most of the first half Evans scored six consecutive points to tie the game at 26 before Merced’s Rogenee Russell canned a three-pointer with 11 seconds left.
Russell got the Blue Devils off to a 9-2 run by popping in another trey to start the second half.
Merced built the lead to 14 (49-35) before the TC’s seven-point run – half of which came from Ariyana Brown – cut it in half.
TC seemed to run out of gas at that point as the Blue Devils pulled away.
“We fell apart with turnovers,” Taylor said.
Taft had 26 for the game, and too many of those came in the dying minutes.
Evans led TC in scoring and rebounding with 18 points and 10 boards.
Ramonique Redding finished with 10 points (4 rebounds), Brown 7, Zanoria Echols 6 plus 4 rebounds and 4 steals, Bezait Anbesse 5, and Schalon Baysinger and Mylasia Smith 2 each.
The loss drops the Cougars to 4-5 in the conference and 9-15 overall. Merced remains in second place with a 7-2 record (15-10 overall). The Blue Devils’ only conference losses were to unbeaten defending champion Fresno.
“The only thing we can do is get ready for the next one,” he said.
That one is Saturday night – the home finale – when sophomores will be honored.
College of the Sequoias (6-3, 14-9) comes to town for a 5 p.m. tip-off in the Al Baldock Cougar Sports Center.