Given the prime-time tip-off for the first time this season, the Modesto Junior College women's basketball team put on a worthy show.
Sughey Cervantes scored a season-high 30 points Friday night to lead the Pirates to their fifth consecutive victory, 86-63 over visiting American River.
Playing after the men's game, Modesto (16-7, 5-1 Big 8 Conference) got off to a hot start, shooting 80 percent from the field in the first half.
"We really don't do that," point guard Connie Gomes said. "Usually we come out firing in the second half and it's a close game. We don't move with our heads down. We talk to each other on the court. We're very unselfish."
By halftime, every Pirate on the roster had scored to give Modesto a 29-point lead. Modesto ended the first half on an 8-2 run to lead 55-26.
Modesto's biggest lead was 36 points, 57-21, after Kelsey Wingo made the second of two free throws. Mike Girardi said it was easily the best half any Modesto team has played in his four years as head coach.
The last time Modesto scored more than 80 points was Dec. 20 in an 87-50 victory over Golden West at the Imperial Valley Tournament. Cervantes had 22 points in that game.
On Saturday she nailed six of her eight 3-point tries, including the first when she had to reach forward for the pass and launched an off-balance shot.
"Sughey is our shooter and I have a lot of confidence in Sughey," Gomes said. "Sughey just made all her shots."
Gretchen Tiernan led the Beavers (12-11, 1-5 Big 8) with 26 points, making six 3-pointers.
Modesto, which is ranked 13th in the state and sixth in Northern California, faces its toughest Big 8 opponents on the road next week. The Pirates end the first half of conference play at undefeated Delta on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and are in Rocklin at Sierra (5-1 Big 8) next Friday.
Bee staff writer Kelly Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.