TUCSON, Ariz. – The Pima Community College women’s basketball team blasted off to start the game on Tuesday night, and Arizona Western College was playing catchup the rest of the night. The Lady Mats battled back throughout and refused to quit, but ultimately fell 79-73 to close the regular season.
Pima (22-7 overall, 16-6 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) raced out to a 12-0 lead three and a half minutes into the game. The Lady Mats (22-8 overall, 17-5 ACCAC) were cold from the floor even after Audrey Mulumba broke the drought with a jumper to make it 12-2.
Pima hit back-to-back three’s to push the lead to 22-8 after back-to-back three’s with less than three minutes to go in the first quarter. Gloria Mulumba finished off a nice post move with a basket to get AWC to 10 points, and the Lady Mats closed the gap to 26-16 at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter, Pima extended the lead to 32-18 after a three from Alliyah Bryant three minutes in. Arizona Western finally found a rhythm on offense to start a 16-3 run. RJ Blackburn knifed into the lane and hit a layup, and Mathilde Diop knocked down the team’s first three. Sharice Kawakami hit a three as well, and all the sudden AWC was only down 35-30.
Gloria Mulumba cut the lead to 35-32 with 2:32 to go in the half, before both sides went scoreless for almost two minutes. She had eight of her 10 points in the first half. Brianna White hit a layup to cut the lead to 35-34, but Pima’s Bree Cates hit two free throws to put Pima up 37-34 at the break.
Sydni Stallworth put Pima on the board to start the third quarter, but the offenses for both sides stalled for a couple minutes. Gloria Mulumba scored after an offensive rebound, and White followed it up with a bucket to cut the Pima lead to 39-38. White led the team with 16 points.
AWC had chances over the next three minutes to tie things up or take the lead, but the team just couldn’t get over the hump. Finally, Pima locked in to close the third quarter. The Aztecs used a 13-3 run to open up a 55-44 lead with less than a minute to play. Kawakami hit a layup right before the buzzer to cut the Pima lead to 55-46.
The Lady Mats kept after it in the fourth quarter, but Pima hit the offensive glass hard. The Aztecs grabbed 14 offensive rebounds in the game (11 after halftime) to keep the lead between seven and 10 points.
White kept the Lady Mats in it with 11 points in the final quarter, and she hit a layup while being fouled with 53 seconds to play. Her free throw made it 72-67, but Pima broke the press for a layup and a 74-67 lead. Diop hit two free throws, and White hit another shot to cut the Pima lead to 75-71 with less than 20 seconds to play. She was then called for an intentional foul on an inbounds pass, and that effectively sealed it after Pima’s Katey Roquemore hit the free throws. Stallworth hit two more free throws for Pima for an insurmountable eight point lead with eight seconds.
Arizona Western will host Eastern Arizona College on Tuesday, March 7 for the first round of the Region I playoffs. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 pm, and no passes will be accepted for the game. Tickets are $5 for adults.
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.