YUMA, Ariz. – An energized, frenetic third quarter powered the Arizona Western College women’s basketball team on Wednesday night. The Lady Mats (9-5 overall, 4-2 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) amped up the pressure, forced turnovers and created easy baskets to pull away from Phoenix College (8-6 overall, 3-3 ACCAC) after a tough first half. AWC maintained the lead through the fourth quarter in a 71-57 win.
Coming out of halftime, the Lady Mats trailed 29-28, but they started trapping aggressively to change the tempo of the game. Phoenix rushed shots, and AWC used an 11-3 run to take a 39-32 lead. Rei Imamura scored five of the 11 points to help power the run.
Phoenix scored after the timeout, but Gloria Mulumba scored four of the next five points for AWC to push the lead to double digits at 44-34. Mulumba finished the night with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
After Phoenix closed the gap to 46-40 with 1:57 left in the third, the Lady Mats scored five straight to push the lead right back into double figures. Phoenix sank the final shot of the quarter though when Chloe Warrington hit a three that trimmed the AWC lead to 51-44.
At the start of the fourth quarter, AWC started flying around on defense again. The Lady Mats forced 12 turnovers after halftime, and the easy looks helped the team shoot 50% from the floor in the second half.
Six straight points pushed the Lady Matador lead to 57-44 at the start of the quarter, and Phoenix had to call timeout with 8:13 to play. Phoenix’s Jasmine Covington attacked the rim and drew a foul while hitting a shot. She knocked down the free throw, but Raven Roberts came right down the floor and answered for AWC with a three of her own off a nice pass from Roimata Blackburn. Roberts had 11 points and three assists.
The AWC lead grew to as much as 16 in the fourth quarter. Phoenix trimmed the gap to 66-57 with a little less than three minutes left, but both sides went cold. No one scored again until Nicole Smith hit a shot for a 68-57 lead with 39 seconds. Smith had eight points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Mats.
In the first half, the two sides played hot potato with the lead. Each time one team seemed poised to run away with the game, the other team stepped up with a big shot or defensive stand.
Theyoung Puoy powered the lady Matador attack in the first half with 13 of her team-high 15 points. She had eight of the team’s 17 points in a back-and-forth first quarter. Phoenix led 18-17 at the end of it off a layup by Sarahi Montano on the final possession.
The two defenses locked in tight in the second quarter, and shots quit dropping. AWC took a 28-25 lead when Puoy grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 1:10 to play in the second quarter, but Phoenix rallied. Jayda Nance made a driving layup, and Jasmine Covington hit two free throws on the final possession for a 29-28 lead for Phoenix at the half.
The Lady Mats shot 44% from the floor for the game, and Phoenix shot 32% from the floor.
AWC heads to Central Arizona College on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is set for 2:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on 560 AM KBLU with the pregame show going live at 1:50 p.m.
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.