Cougars missing players because of poor grades


Merced College overtook a short-handed Taft College women’s basketball team in the late going Wednesday for a 54-53 Central Valley Conference victory in the Cougar Sports Center.

A desperation shot by Theresa Henderson just before the final buzzer was off the mark.

Christine Taylor’s three-pointer with seven seconds left to get the Cougars to within a point set the stage for Henderson’s attempted buzzer-beater.

Merced’s Rebecca Morris missed two free-throws with six seconds left, but Henderson was unable to pull off a miracle after grabbing the rebound.

“That was a game we should have won,” said head coach Tyrone Taylor.  “It came down to the two basic things in basketball: making free throws and lay-ups.”

The Cougars made only four of 12 free throws and missed a number of lay-ups.

TC led the slow-paced game until the Blue Devils grabbed the lead at 47-44 on a three-pointer by Porsha Grayson with 3:37 left.  She hit back-to-back treys that erased a six-point Cougar lead and tied it at 42 with 7:43 left.

Henderson, who scored a game-high 21 points, answered with a field goal but Merced’s Olivia Anden hit back-to-back shots to push the Blue Devil advantage to 51-46.

A Henderson free throw and a three-pointer from Taylor pulled the Cougars to within a point (51-50) with 28 seconds left.  Merced made three of four free throws to pull ahead by four to set the stage for the finish.

Taylor finished with 14 points.  Crystal Clark scored six, Jasmine Green five, Baylee Day four and Dawnisha Perry three.  Perry, a 5-6 freshman guard, led the Cougars in rebounding with 14.

The Cougars (7-13 overall, 1-3 in conference) travel to Visalia Saturday for a 5 p.m. CVC game with College of the Sequoias.

The Cougars were short handed when two players – one of them a starter – were dismissed from the team for poor grades and two others were suspended for a game for missing practice.

Both players dismissed for poor grades in the fall semester were still eligible under state rules because once players are eligible to start the season they are eligible to finish it.

“As the coach, I’ve got to set the tone,” he said.  “The classroom has got to come first because it is so important for their future.”

Athletic Director Kanoe Bandy applauded Taylor’s stance.

“I’m really proud of him for taking that position,” she said.