Taft College falls to Merced

Taft College faded at the end of both halves Saturday in losing a Central Valley Conference basketball game to visiting College of the Sequoias.

The Cougars gave up a 15-point first-half lead, caught up to tie the Giants with two minutes left in the game but ran out of gas.

The score was 65-57 and dropped the Cougars to 4-6 in the conference and 9-16 overall. COS improved to 7-3 and 15-9.

"We went cold again," said head coach Tyrone Taylor, underscoring his team's inability to finish strong. "We were up 28-13, and then we just went cold. We played well in the second half but had a mental breakdown and turnover at the end."

Trailing by two (58-56) with a minute left and possession of the ball, Sequoias guard Vanessa Mancera stole the ball and raced to the other end for a lay-up. She also got fouled and made the free throw to push the lead to five points.

TC countered with a free throw but COS center Emily Fechner, who led all scorers with 18 points, got free in the paint for an easy bucket.
The Cougars were forced to foul and Mancera finished the scoring by sinking two free throws.

The Cougars got off to a fast start on Erica Evans' three-pointer and cruised to a 15-point lead after Zanoria Echols finished a 10-0 run with a short jumper.

That's when the Cougar offense went into a deep freeze.

Latique Walton's three-pointer with 7:06 left in the half ignited a 15-point Sequoias scoring spree that gave the Giants a 31-28 lead.

Echols scored with 1:13 left to close the gap to one point at the break.

TC regained the lead on another Evans three-pointer. After swapping the lead twice, the Cougars pulled into a five-point cushion (42-7) with just under 12 minutes left.

A 7-0 run returned the lead to the Giants and although it was tied five times – the last time at 56 with 2:21 left – the Giants pulled away to avoid the upset.

Echols, playing her final home game along with Schalon Baysinger, Bezait Anbesse and Shelly Gill, had perhaps her best game of the season. She led the team with 15 points, had 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Evans finished with 13 points and two steals and Ramonique Redding 12 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Anbesse scored just five points but led the team with 9 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.

Crystallyn Faletoi had 6 points, Mariyana Smith 5, Gill 4, and Baysinger 2.

The Cougars travel to Lemoore Wednesday to take on West Hills and finish the season Saturday at Fresno.