DOUGLAS, Ariz. – The Arizona Western College women’s basketball team ran into a buzzsaw on Friday night in the Region I Final at Cochise College. Cochise had the best defense in the conference, and it showed. Cochise won 62-33 to win the Region I Final and earn a trip to the NJCAA National Tournament.
Cochise (27-3 overall) held the Lady Mats (23-9 overall) to single digits in both the first and the third quarters and turned turnovers into transition points.
In the first quarter, neither side scored for the first minute and a half as both sides were cold. Cochise broke the ice with four straight points by Mamita Diagne. Cochise’s Ciara Fields canned a three to put AWC in a 7-0 hole.
Brianna White scored four straight to cut the lead to 7-4 with six minutes to go in the first quarter, but Cochise kicked the defense up a notch. The Lady Mats didn’t score for the remainder of the quarter. The AWC defense kept it close and only allowed a Sophia Anaya three through the rest of the quarter. They trailed 10-4.
At the start of the second quarter, Cochise scored three straight to take a 13-4 lead. Sharice Kawakami hit a three to cut the lead to 13-7. A couple of turnovers led to transition buckets for Diagne and Shannon Powell to put Cochise up 17-7. It was part of a 10-2 run that extended the lead to 23-9.
Krisynthia Sampson scored six of AWC’s final eight points, but Cochise matched her to take a 32-17 lead at the break. Sampson was AWC’s leading scorer with 12 points.
In the third quarter, Cochise again locked down the Lady Mats and held them to five points. The Apaches started knocking down perimeter shots to extend the lead to more than 20. By the end of the quarter, Cochise led 49-22.
The two sides traded buckets for most of the fourth quarter. Cochise outscored AWC 15-11.
Fields led all scorers with 16 points.
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.