Men's Basketball | 01/20/2021
Mats Rally in Epic Comeback over Snow
YUMA, Ariz. – From a deep deficit, to a scary fall, the Arizona Western Matadors weathered a seemingly endless amount of obstacles before seizing the lead in the final minutes en route to an 86-80 season opening win over the Snow College Badgers Wednesday night.
The journey just to start the season seemed difficult at times, but the new group of Matadors displayed tenacity and a relentless drive while overcoming a hole that swoll to as much as 25 in the first half.
Snow started the game on a tear from the outside behind Sophomore guard Matt Norman.
The Badgers connected on half of their 18 three-point attempts, with Norman blazing the trail by hitting 4 of 6 threes and dropping 20 of his game high 31 points.
The Mats struggled from the field, as well, in the first half shooting just 30% from the field.
That was enough to put the Matadors down 47-28 at the break.
Freshman Evan Butts sparked the offense with a pair of his four total three’s. Sophomore Mojus Mojus, a transfer from Cal State Fullerton chipped in 13 of his 15 points as well.
But a pair of redshirt freshman from last season, Najeeb Muhammad and Leo Gerardo combined for 29 second half points, six three-point field goals and clutch free-throws to seal the win.
Still, it took until the final three minutes for the Matadors to even seize a lead, coming on Gerardo’s layup tip-toping around a defender.
Then the defense came with a few big stops including a steal by Nate Duda that setup Gerardo’s layup.
Duda and Mojus combined for a stop on the next play, but collided in midair, resulting in a hard fall.
The game was paused for several minutes while first responders were called to attend to Duda. He is in stable condition.
After allowing the teams to warm up again, Muhammad hit a free-throw forcing Snow to go into foul mode in hopes of extending the game.
But the Matadors iced the game at the line to improve to 1-0 on the season.
Arizona Western has a long reprieve to regroup after the emotional opener, next traveling to play Central Arizona and begin an ACCAC schedule on January 30th.
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.