by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
Poor shooting has dogged the Taft College women's basketball team in its first eight games – all of them losses.
But on Saturday, in only their second home game, the Cougars found their shooting touch – especially from outside the three-point line – for a 72-60 victory over Compton College.
The Cougars, who on the season average 28 percent from behind the arc, sank 10 of their 11 tries Saturday night. That's 91 percent.
"We really found our touch," said head coach Tyrone Taylor. "That's probably the best we've shot all season. We played well from start to finish. Our threes were falling, and that was the big difference. We made shots tonight – from the free-throw line and field."
Hot shooting from behind the arc led to an overall 50 percent shooting night that offset the 12 of 33 two-pointers (36 percent). The Cougars were 16 of 29 (55 percent) from the free-throw line.
That's slightly above of their season average of 51 percent.
The game was tight through the first quarter with the Cougars edging ahead 17-15 on Elizabeth Mora's basket with 24 seconds left.
The Cougars had a hot second quarter thanks to five three-pointers – two each from freshman forward Mariah Grantham and point guard Amber Vaughn and one from Carrie Graham, who finished with a team-high 17 points.
Leading by a point at 24-23, the Cougars went on a 16-5 spurt that began with Grantham's three with 5:07 left in the half and ended with Graham's with 39 seconds left. In between, Vaughn hit back-to-back treys in a span of 25 seconds.
Taft led 40-28 at the break.
The Cougars kept up the pressure by outscoring Compton 20-12 in the third period fueled by a 13-1 start that gave TC its biggest lead at 53-29. A 7-0 run in the last 1:37 made it 60-40 heading into the final quarter.
TC was still up by 20 (67-47) when Compton finished with a 13-5 run. All TC points came from the line (5-of-12).
Vaughn and Mora each scored 13 points, Brittany Santoy and Grantham 9 apiece, Chantia Jones 7 and Whykella Haley 2. Vaughn and Grantham were 3-for-3 from behind the arc, Graham 2-for-3 and Santoy and Jones 1-for-1.
Mora, a 5-10 freshman forward from Firebaugh, had a good night rebounding with 13 while Graham had 8, Santoy 6, Jones 5, Vaughn and Haley 4 each, Grantham 3 and Dejunique Jeffries 2. Mora also had 2 blocks, Graham, Santoy and Vaughn 1 each.
Taylor hopes the first victory will give his team some bounce going into this weekend's tournament at San Diego City College. The Cougars play the host team in the feature game Friday at 7 and either Los Angeles Southwest or Imperial Valley on Saturday.
"We've been playing hard all year," he said. "It was good to see them have some success. It's a big plus going into our next game."