Riding a four-game win streak and with a chance to earn a share of the Western State Conference Northern Division title, the Cuesta College women’s basketball team came up just short, falling 58-45 to Ventura, the state’s second-ranked team, in the regular season finale at home Saturday night.
Alyssa Palma led the Cougars (19-10, 7-3 WSC North) with 19 points, Aria Johnson had 15 and Courtney Chadwick added 10.
Cuesta finishes the regular season in second-place in the Northern Division standings.
Miriam Zabinsky had a game-high eight assists for the Cougars, who shot just 35 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.
Lisa Marie Sanchez led the Pirates with 12 points and seven assists, Ashanti Sweezer had nine points and 13 rebounds, and four players had six for Ventura (27-3, 9-1), which outrebounded Cuesta 35-14.
Saddleback 6, Cuesta 1
Saddleback starter Tyler Brashears (2-1) held Cuesta to one hit over six scoreless innings as Saddleback beat the Cougars for the second straight day.
Saddleback broke the game open by scoring four runs in the top of the seventh to increase its lead to 6-0. Designated hitter Noah Graham was 3 for 3 with two RBI and a run scored, and left fielder Slate Miller was 3 for 5 with an RBI and two runs.
Cuesta was held to two hits — doubles by first baseman Parker Hindle and right fielder Jack Colick. Cuesta scored in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI groundout by shortstop Marco Murillo.
Cuesta threatened with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth and had the potential tying run on-deck, but Saddleback relief pitcher Seth Pedersen struck out Colick and pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the save.
Cuesta starter Andrew Nelson (1-2) gave up eight hits and three earned runs and had six strikeouts in six innings.
Ventura 84, Cuesta 74
After falling behind early, the Cougars (18-13, 5-5 WSC North) could not pull off a third straight conference victory after winning their previous two games by a combined six points.
Kenny Robinson led Cuesta with 17 points and five rebounds, and Oscar Pedroso had 16 points and six rebounds. Plamen Hristov had 15 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Khirey Carson had 13 points and seven rebounds for Cuesta, which was outrebounded 39-25.
Zalmico Harmon and Jaylin Airington each scored a game-high 23 points for Ventura (24-6, 8-2).