Philip George / Roundup
With the curtain closing on the season, the women’s basketball team continued their charge toward their first playoff berth in school history with a 79-66 victory over Santa Barbara City College Wednesday in the South Gym.
The win, coupled with Moorpark’s 52-77 loss to Ventura College, propelled Pierce College (6-3 in conference) into third place in the Western State Conference North Division, half a game behind second place Santa Barbara (7-3) and three behind first place Ventura College (9-0).
“Our new mentality going into these games is to not over think them or to get over hyped,” explained sophomore guard Bridget Jenkins who posted 20 points in the Brahmas’ victory. “We noticed that when we did that, we went out there and panicked and went crazy. Now we just go out there calm and relaxed.
“We just want to win and we’re going to do whatever it takes. We’re going to cheer on our teammates, hype them up – whatever we have to do – dive on the floor to pick up the intensity.”
Jenkins kick-started the Brahmas’ offensive barrage with two three-pointers in the game’s opening minutes en route to a Pierce College 23-9 run to begin the first half. That lead stood up through the half as the Brahmas stood 20 minutes away from increasing their postseason chances carrying a 39-27 advantage.
The Vaqueros posed a larger threat in the second half, at one point narrowing their deficit to a single point, but could not surpass the Brahmas as they last month strode away with the victory, avenging their 18-point loss to Santa Barbara when the two met last month.
“They beat us before so that gave them confidence and you never give a team confidence,” said sophomore center Tiara Richardson. “We had to go in and actually break them down and let them know that we’re the better team.
“[Our plan was] basically to ram the ball down their faces and show them that we just had a really bad game. When we played them the first time, that was probably our worst game of the season.”
With eight points on the night, Richardson’s offense was far from her stand-out performances past, but the center insisted on defeating the Vaqueros with her game smarts rather than raw skill alone.
“I sat out [the first game against Santa Barbara] so I went home and I watched the DVD and I studied what they do,” she said. “The post player, Nikki Graham, I watched her and I held her to nothing, pretty much.
“I need to know what my opponents do so that I can do it better than them.”
A postseason spot was not the only thing on the line for Pierce as Wednesday marked the Brahmas Pink Zone game to support breast cancer research.
Said freshman guard Mikala Pride of her 20-point performance, “I was doing it for breast cancer awareness.”
She wasn’t the only one.
Players on both sides donned pink shirts while the musical stylings of Pink Floyd were piped through the public address system. In addition, a $5 admission to both the women’s game and the preceding men’s game, all proceeds benefitting the Kay Yow/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Cancer Fund.
As for the Brahmas’ path to the postseason, the formula is simple says head coach Jim Couch – run the table.
“This game was huge because now we decide our own fate,” he explained. “All we have to do is win out to finish in second.”
The only team that can stand in Pierce’s way should they sweep their final three games against Oxnard College, Allan Hancock College and Cuesta College, the bottom three in the conference, is Moorpark College. Should they too win out against Santa Barbara and Oxnard, they would control second place.
Although second place does not guarantee the Brahmas a playoff spot, Couch feels that their power rankings will be enough to put them over the top. Pierce mathematically cannot finish in first, the only guaranteed spot.
Next up for the Brahmas is a road trip to Oxnard at 7 p.m. on Saturday.