COOLIDGE, Ariz. – A late dry spell halfway through the third quarter doomed the Arizona Western College women’s basketball team on Tuesday night in the Region I Semifinals at Central Arizona College. The Lady Mats (21-10 overall) went scoreless for five minutes while CAC (22-9 overall) went on a 23-0 run. The hole proved too deep, and the Lady Mats fell 78-58.
Things looked good for the Lady Mats coming out of halftime. The team trimmed a five-point deficit to two, 38-36, with 6:50 to go in the third quarter when Aimee Brett hit a three.
Central amped up the defensive pressure, and the Lady Mats hit absolute zero on offense and couldn’t buy a bucket for the next five minutes. Meanwhile, CAC’s Kiara Knox poured in 10 of her 20 points as the Vaqueras shot out to a double digit lead. Megan Guadian provided a couple of backbreaking three’s that felt like daggers, and the Lady Mats were down 61-36 with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter. Raven Roberts finally hit a three for AWC to end the 23-0 run, but it was too late.
From that point, AWC couldn’t string together stops and buckets to get back into the game. CAC led 63-41 headed to the fourth quarter, and the Lady Mats never pulled with 19 during the final 10 minutes.
At the start of the game, it seemed like it would be a close battle all night. Central hit four three’s in the first quarter, but Destiny Gonzalez poured in 10 points to power AWC.
Central took the early lead on a Guadian three, but the Lady Mats worked their offense to find the right shots. Gloria Mulumba hit a layup for a 6-5 lead, and Gonzalez tied the game at 10 a few minutes later.
CAC went up 13-12, but Aimee Brett hit a three for a 15-13 lead. Central’s Jamie Young answered with a three, but Gonzalez hit two free throws for a 17-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. Gonzalez led the Lady Mats with 18 points.
In the second quarter, Central ambushed the Lady Mats with a 13-0 run to open up a 29-17 lead with 5:52 to go in the first half. AWC took a timeout, and Mulumba scored four of the team’s next six points to cut the lead to six. She finished with 13 points.
The Lady Mats pulled within one possession at 31-28 when Roberts hit a three with 1:40 to go in the half, but Young answered with a three. She scored 20 points in the game. AWC trailed 34-29 at the break.
AWC finished with its 13th 20-win season under head coach Patrick Cunningham.
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 2,300 certificates and degrees in 2016-17.