Pierce College’s women’s basketball team consists entirely of freshmen, new to college basketball, but the team is working hard to earn its place in college ball.
Team Captain Unique Taufa’asau plays forward.
Taufa’asau started playing basketball for the Boys and Girls Club in third grade and entered the Amateur Athletic Union in sixth grade.
Taufa’asau enjoyed basketball and received support and inspiration from her family.
“My dad encourages me,” she said.
Coach Brian Purugganan said for being a freshman and the first signed recruit, Taufa’asau has really stepped up.
Purugganan says Taufa’asau is tough and never gives up. She shows diligence on and off the court.
“She was overly committed,” Purugganan said. “A team reflects the coach, and she reflects my style.”
Jessica Bush, the other team captain, plays a post.
Bush has been playing basketball since sixth grade. She said her parents just started her in basketball to give her something to do with her spare time, but once she started, Bush realized she loved the game.
She has been inspired over the years by her high school coaches and her mother, who played basketball in high school as well.
Bush says she enjoy playing on Pierce’s team and gets along well with the other girls.
Purugganan says Bush was one of the top recruits and a focused player.
“She has really improved her game,” he said.
Jennifer Rea, one of the starting five players, also played volleyball for Pierce. Purugganan says it was hard for her to transition from volleyball to basketball, but she handled it well.
Rea is one of the team’s leading scorers, and she leads the team with 3-pointer shots.
Hayley Hancock, another starting player, has impressed her team and coach by going from backup point-guard to starting point-guard. Purugganan says Hancock plays longer than most point-guards would, as about 40 minutes per game.
Hancock is a solid shooter and the team’s best free-throw shooter.
“She’s like our quarterback,” Purugganan said.
Taylor Riley, the last of the starting players, is the team’s diamond in the rough, according to Purugganan.
He says she has the potential to become a top player in the Northwest Athletics Association of Community Colleges.
Purugganan is happy with his team this year. The team’s average GPA is more than 3.0, the highest it has been in years.
The women get along well, and Purugganan says they are good students on and off the court. He believes they are all good basketball players.
“If they step up and play defense, we have a chance to win a lot of games” he said.
The team’s next home games are Feb. 9, 19 and 23 in the HEC at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom.
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