Depth Prevails

MESA, Ariz. – Five players scored in double figures and nine players scored for the Arizona Western College men’s basketball team on Wednesday night, and the Mats needed all of them. AWC topped Scottsdale Community College 87-83 despite the Artichokes hitting 14 three’s.

Both sides had double digit leads in an up-and-down game, but it was a one possession game for most of the final eight minutes. Arizona Western (22-6 overall, 15-5 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) led 65-59 with 9:00 to play when Tyler Motley hit a shot, but Scottsdale (10-18 overall, 6-14 ACCAC) answered with a Ben Arqueros triple that made it a one possession game. Arqueros followed it up with a three a few possessions later to cap an 8-0 run and give Scottsdale the 67-65 lead.

AWC’s Andre Jones split a double team to hit an acrobatic layup that tied the game at 67 with 6:30 to play. He then rejected Brandon Birden inside, and Daryl Adams drilled a transition three to give AWC a 70-67 lead. Jones finished with 17 points, and Adams added 16.

Marcus Jarrett came back and tied the game with a floater and foul. He hit the free throw with 5:08 to play and led all scorers with 30 points before fouling out.

After Adams went 1-2 at the free throw line, Arqueros put SCC up 72-71 with less than five minutes to play.

Dajuan Beard drove it and kicked to Adams for a Matador three, and AWC retook the lead for good, 74-72. Chris Famous followed it up with a pair of free throws for a four-point lead, but DeeMari Young closed the gap to 76-74 with a bucket for Scottsdale.

Beard blew by his defender for a layup with three minutes to play for a 78-74 lead. He finished with 13 points. Scottsdale’s Isaiah Easaw took over and scored seven points for the Artichokes, but each time Arizona Western answered. Lamont Traylor and Jones combined to score six points and maintain a three-point lead, 84-81, with 1:28 to play.

Jesse Frost-Dixon hit a layup to cut the lead to 84-83 with one minute to play, and then both teams locked down on defense. After the Mats missed, Scottsdale could have held the ball for a final shot. Easaw drove at Famous and was whistled for an offensive foul to give AWC the ball with nine seconds left. Beard calmly hit two free throws, and Easaw airballed a three. Adams hit a free throw with one second left to seal the win.

In the first half, Scottsdale almost didn’t miss from beyond the arc. The Artichokes hit 10 three’s in the first half on the way to building a 30-19 lead. Jarrett did most of the damage and almost outscored the Matadors by himself with 18 of his team’s 30 points.

The Matadors switched to a zone defense. The defense was active and forced turnovers, and the Mats reeled off a 10-0 run. Beard scored the first four points, and Lamont Traylor barreled his way to six straight points to trim the lead to 30-29 with seven minutes left in the first half. Traylor led AWC with 19 points and scored 15 in the first half.

Jarrett answered with another three, but the Mats were within striking distance. The two sides traded buckets until Adams tied the game at 36 with a 15-foot jumper with 4:32 left in the first half.

Jones gave the team a 40-39 lead with 3:20 to play in the half, but Jarrett went 1-2 at the line to tie the game. Torin Webb, Jones, Adams and Traylor all scored over the final three minutes to put AWC up 49-43 at the break.

Early in the second half, the Matadors started to break the game open. AWC came out of the locker room and went on an 8-1 run to open up a 57-44 lead. After Scottsdale’s Tyler Willis hit a three, Webb answered to keep the lead at 13 for AWC. That would be the last bucket the Mats would score for a little more than five minutes.

The Artichokes closed the gap to 60-59 with a 12-0 run during that time. Beard ended the Matador drought with a free throw, and Jones rocked the rim with a dunk one possession later for a four point lead. Motley then hit his shot to set up the final nine minutes.

The win keeps Arizona Western College in the chase for the first overall seed in the Region I Tournament. The Mats have locked up a playoff spot, but the team is tied with Cochise for first with two games left to play.

AWC hosts Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 pm, and tickets are only $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and military members with ID. 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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