Two funerals and an illness hamstrung Taft College in its Central Valley Conference women's basketball game Saturday in Visalia. Head coach Greg McCall and forward Theresa Hubbard were each attending funerals, and forward Nikki Thompson was ill. And with assistant coach Jason Gleed out of town on a recruiting trip, the Cougar bench was pretty sparse with assistant coach Debra Jackson and six players. Without Hubbard and Thompson—both 5-9 and solid rebounders—the Cougars had a severely weakened presence in the paint. That opened the door for 5-10 College of the Sequoias forward Ira Taylor to score 11 baskets in close and haul down a game-high 16 rebounds to lead her team to a 62-59 victory.
The Cougars fought hard in the first half to take a 28-25 lead into the popcorn break, and went up by five when leading scorer Carolyn Stribling scored quickly off the second half inbound pass. But the Giants erupted with a 19-3 run led by five buckets from Taylor—all right under the basket. TC's only answer during the spree was a three-pointer from Lexi Garvey. The Cougars scored the next seven points—five of them by Stribling—to get within four, but the Giants went on a 6-0 run to take a 10 point (50-40) lead with 7:55 left. COS had a 12-point advantage with 4:31 left, but the Cougars kept working and scored the last nine points of the game.
Stribling had a three-point play with 34 seconds left to cut the margin to three. Taft got the ball back with 14 seconds left when the defense forced a turnover. Jackson called timeout to set up a play. The pass went to Garvey—the team's best three-point shooter—but she was double-teamed and forced to drive the baseline to the basket. The defense prevented her from getting off a good shot. While Taylor gave the Cougars fits inside, quick Nicole Daye-Bryant captured game scoring honors with 24 points. Two other Cougars scored in double figures. Garvey finished with 14 points although she had a poor night outside the arc, making just two of 10. Marcharica Quinn had 10 points. Stribling and Quinn had 10 rebounds each, but for the game the Cougars were out-rebounded 60-33. The missing players could have been a factor. The loss leaves the Cougars at 1-4 in the conference heading into Wednesday night's home game against second-place Merced. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.
TAFT COLLEGE 59—Anfield 2 0-0 4, Quinn 5 0-0 10, Garvey 4 4-6 14, Washington 1 0-0 2, Stribling 8 6-8 22, Little 3 0-0 7. Totals: 26 10-14 59.
COLLEGE OF SEQUOIAS 62—Daye-Bryant 9 1-4 24, Richard 2 3-7 7, Taylor 11 0-1 22, Alexander 1 0-0 2, Hunter 1 3-3 8, Cox 1 0-0 2. Totals: 26 11-18 62.
Halftime: Taft 28, COS 25
Three-point goals: Taft 3 (Garvey 2, Little), COS 1 (Daye-Bryant). Rebounds: Taft 33 (Stribling 10, Quinn 10, Garvey 6), COS 60 (Taylor 16, Daye-Bryant 12, Richard 11, Hunter 8). Total fouls: Taft 18, COS 14. Fouled out: none. Records: Taft (4-16, 1-4 in CVC), COS 7-17 (2-4 in CVC).