by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
MERCED – Taft College surrendered a halftime lead to Merced College here Wednesday and watched the Blue Devils pull away for a 61-51 Central Valley Conference victory.
It was TC's fifth straight conference loss after defeating Porterville in the third game of the CVC campaign. The Cougars will have a tough time getting their second conference when they travel to Visalia next Wednesday to face College of the Sequoias (6-0, 21-3 overall) after drawing the conference bye on Saturday.
Sequoias is ranked No. 1 in northern California and No. 2 in the state behind undefeated Mt. San Antonio (23-0).
The Cougars had a 27-23 lead after a slow-paced first half. The action picked up in the second half but not for the Cougars, who were outscored 38-24.
Former Taft High Wildcat Kunce had a productive night with a team-high 25 points and 10 rebounds, but Davidson was significantly off her game. She grabbed just seven rebounds and, worse, scored just two points on 1-of-8 from the field. She didn't get to the line at all.
Kunce was 7-of-14 from the field and 11-of-17 from the free throw line. Both Cougar centers blocked three shots.
Two other Cougars scored in double figures.
Synclaire Lucas had three points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal. Amy Vaughn, a softball player who joined the team after her sport was cancelled for this season, had two rebounds and a steal.
The Cougars shot 30 percent from the field on 18-of-60 while the Blue Devils were sinking 23-of-66 for 35 percent. TC tried to make up for the deficit at the line but made just 54 percent of their shots (15-of-28) compared to Merced's 7-of-15.
The Blue Devils were paced by guard Janae Jackson's 22 points and nine rebounds and center Mele Tupouata's 11 points and 13 rebounds.
The Cougars picked up another player besides Webb.
Now that Vaughn, a freshman from Hawaii, has joined the team the Cougars have a roster of eight players. The team has been playing most of the season with just seven and had to finish last Saturday's game at Fresno with just four when three players fouled out.
COS 6-0 (21-13)
Reedley 5-1 (13-9)
Fresno 4-2 (16-8)
West Hills 3-3 (15-7)
Merced 2-4 (7-13)
Taft 1-5 (7-13)
Porterville 0-6 (6-15)