YUMA, Ariz. – The Arizona Western College Matadors earned their third consecutive trip to the District Finals by knocking off the Eastern Arizona Gila Monsters 85-81 in overtime Monday night at The House.
This time, the Matadors will host the victors from Region 18, Snow College.
To get there, Arizona Western had to fend off a battle tested Gila Monster squad that knocked off top-seeded Cochise in double-overtime on Saturday night.
Both teams traded buckets and leads throughout the night but the Matadors had to do it without the three-ball in the first half. AWC was just 1-10, meanwhile Eastern hung around because of five three pointers from Amari Stafford.
The Mats countered with second chance points, winning the category 9-0 in the first half and getting big production inside from Marvin Mapaga and Andre Allen.
Still, the teams were neck and neck with the Matadors holding a three-point lead at the break.
In the second half, the Matadors built a double-digit lead thanks to tight defense, earning 12 steals. Cash Williams and Jordan Green were constantly in passing lanes and combine for nine of the steals, Green a game high six.
Alfonso Plummer got hot as well, hitting three 3’s and snagging nine rebounds to finish with a game high 23 points.
But Eastern hung around in the second half, continuing to hit the long ball with three more of their own and finishing with five guys in double figures.
Nathaniel Pollard, coming off a monster night, had another huge game for Eastern with 19 pts and 17 rebounds and Eastern pushed the game into OT.
Finally, the Matadors were able to get the edge and came up with a pair of late stops including a Williams’ steal that halted the Monsters tying attempt.
After the Mats got another stop, Allen was fouled with 5.2 seconds but a technical foul against AWC gave Eastern two free-throw attempts first.
James Burns hit one of two while Allen then shot one of two on his. The Gila Monsters final shot rimmed out to finish the game.
Plummer was named the game's MVP for the Matadors.
The Matadors will now host Snow College on Saturday night with a trip to the NJCAA Tournament on the line. The game starts at 7:30pm.
Tickets are $5, reserved seats are $6. There are no passes.
The game will be streamed live on AWC TV.
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.