Grinder

Mesa, Ariz. – Road games are never easy, and the Arizona Western College women’s basketball team found that out on Wednesday night. The Lady Mats were tied at 27 after a sloppy first half against Scottsdale, but a late run in the third quarter gave the team an eight point lead it would never relinquish. AWC won 66-58.

With three minutes left in the third, Scottsdale took a 42-41 lead after a three. Sharice Kawakami whipped a pass to Krisynthia Sampson inside for a layup. Kawakami found Maria Marquez open in the corner for a big three, and the Lady Mats were off and running. RJ Blackburn capped the 9-0 spurt with a layup for a 50-42 lead with less than two seconds in the quarter.

Arizona Western (21-7 overall, 16-4 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) extended the lead to 12 points in the fourth quarter. Brianna White scored four straight points for a 56-44 lead with 6:40 to go, and Sampson finished off a nice pass from Mathilde Diop that made it 58-46 a few possessions later. Sampson led AWC with 15 points.

The lead hovered around double digits for the rest of the way as Arizona Western managed the game well down the stretch. After Scottsdale (10-17 overall, 8-12 ACCAC) had trimmed it to 62-55, Diop slipped a pass to Marquez for another three that pushed the lead back to double digits with a little more than a minute to play.

In the first quarter, both sides were careless with the ball, but neither side managed to take advantage of the turnovers. The Lady Mats built a 9-5 lead with 3:35 to go in the frame after Marquez hit a layup.

Nicole Smith drained a three to push the lead to 14-8 with 1:30 left in the quarter, but Scottsdale’s Porshae Hearns sank two free throws to make it a four point game.

Scottsdale rallied in the middle of the second quarter and erased the deficit. With AWC up 21-16, Scottsdale’s Tiara Edmond had two straight layups to make it a one point game.

Sederia Carter hit a layup off a high-low pass from Sampson to push the lead back to three, but SCC’s Malacah Jackson tied the game at 23. The Lady Mats scored four straight points for a 27-23 lead before Scottsdale returned the favor to tie the game at 27 at the half.

Kawakami had nine points for AWC, and Smith tied her career high at AWC with eight. Marquez also had eight points for AWC.

The Lady Mats host Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Saturday. With a win, the team would lock up a home playoff game for the Region I Tournament. Tip-off against CGCC is scheduled for 5:30 pm. 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.

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