Blown Lead

COOLIDGE, Ariz. – For the second time this season, the Arizona Western College men’s basketball team saw a 20-point lead evaporate and turn into a loss. On Wednesday night at Central Arizona College, AWC led 59-39 in the second half before falling to the Vaqueros 89-84 in overtime.

AWC’s Brandon McGhee put the team up 20 with a driving layup four minutes into the second half. Central Arizona responded with a monster 35-12 run over the next 10 minutes.

Calvin Johnson Jr started the run with five straight points, and Central (14-12 overall, 7-11 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) quickly closed the gap to 59-48. AWC’s Chris Famous found Burke Twyman for an open three to momentarily stem the tide. The Mats (20-6 overall, 13-5 ACCAC) pushed the lead out to 16 points after a Rob Jones layup made it 66-50. Jones set a career high with 18 points after feasting on offensive rebounds and layups.

After a double technical foul, Central’s Karriem Simmons knocked down a three that trimmed the Matador lead to 66-55. Josiah Westbrook trimmed the lead to 66-58 with 8:14 to play in the game. He led all scorers with 25 points after going 15-16 at the free throw line.

Andre Jones briefly re-established a 10 points Matador lead with a bucket, but Central ripped off a 9-1 run. Dashawn Shelton hit a little runner to trim the Matador lead to 69-67 with five minutes to play.

Dajuan Beard knifed into the lane and hit a floater in traffic to try and right the Matador ship and push the lead to 71-67. Central responded with seven straight points, with Josiah Westbrook hitting three straight free throws for a lead. One more bucket put CAC up 74-71 with three minutes left.

The Vaqueros pushed the lead to 79-75 with a little more than a minute left, but the Matadors didn’t quit. Torin Webb hit two free throws after drawing a foul, and Central missed a pair of free throws. Lamont Traylor sank two free throws with 15 seconds left to tie the game at 79, and AWC forced a miss at the buzzer to send it to overtime.

In the extra period, Traylor hit a jump hook to put AWC up 81-79 with 3:30 to go. Traylor finished with 15 points.

Central responded with six straight points. Simon Okolue hit a bucket, and Westbrook knocked down two more free throws to push the lead to 85-81.

Daryl Adams drained his only three of the game to cut the lead to 85-84 after Andre Jones kicked it to him on the wing.

Central closed it out though with four straight to seal it as AWC couldn’t get a shot to go in the final minute.

Traylor and Rob Jones helped AWC dominate in the first half. Traylor finished off three straight passes from Beard to power an 8-0 run. Twyman capped it by laying in a pass from Chris Famous for a 16-8 lead. Twyman had 11 points.

Central trimmed the gap to 18-15, but the Matadors reeled off an 8-1 run. Four players scored as AWC pushed the lead out to double digits after Traylor knocked down a shot, 26-16.

The lead grew to 15 points when Andre Jones hit a layup with less than five minutes to go in the half to make it 33-18. He finished with 15 points.

With two minutes to play in the half, Rob Jones scored four points that pushed the Matador lead to 43-26. Beard pushed the lead to 49-28 with a layup with 43 seconds left in the half. Central Arizona closed the half with a three-point play by Jordan Strane that made it 49-31.

AWC is tied for first with Cochise College in the race for the first seed in Region I, Division I Playoffs. On Saturday, the Mats host Glendale with tip-off scheduled for 7:30. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and military members. Children 12 and under and AWC students and staff (with current school ID) get in for FREE!

Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma. AWC leads the state in enrollment growth over the past 10 years and handed out more than 2,400 certificates and degrees in 2015-16.

--MATADORS--

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