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No. 11 Ventura holds off Vaqueros, 71-64

Aaliyah Pauling collected 21 points and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Aaliyah Pauling collected 21 points and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

Nikka Puga hit 4-of-7 from 3-point range and tossed in 21 points off the bench on Saturday night, leading No. 11 Ventura to a 71-64 women's basketball win at SBCC.

The first-place Pirates (18-6, 4-0 WSC North) won their sixth in a row by outshooting the Vaqueros 43.8 to 38.3 percent and outrebounding them 34-28. Ventura shot twice as many free throws as the Vaqueros, making 23-35 compared to 12-16 for Santa Barbara.

Ventura guard Jasmyne Martin scored 19 points on 11-13 foul shooting.

Freshman guard Aaliyah Pauling paced the Vaqueros (9-11, 1-3) with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Holly Barrera added 16 points and five boards.

Ventura led 42-32 at the half and went ahead by 18 points (50-32) with 7:24 to play. The Vaqueros chipped away at the deficit and pulled within six points, 68-62, on a triple by Morgan Giove with 42 seconds to play.

"We played hard for 40 minutes and we played the entire time with mental toughness," said coach Sandrine Krul. "I'm very proud of our team. We had all our players step up and be leaders at critical times in the game.

"Playing for one another and having heart carried us because we have gone through some adversity and for our team to believe in Aaliyah Pauling and Holly Barrera and Meagan Moore to lead by example and by voice is why we competed for 40 minutes.

"Overall, we don't like to lose, but if you do lose and you play hard and leave it on the court than we do not have any regrets. This loss will help us turn the corner and get some W's in the second half of conference."

The Vaqueros complete the first round of WSC play on Wednesday at Oxnard, starting at 5 p.m.