YUMA, Ariz. – Raven Roberts stormed out of halftime and scored seven straight to break open a tie game to power the Arizona Western College women’s basketball team on Wednesday night in Yuma. Roberts put the Lady Mats (18-8 overall, 13-5 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) up 35-28, and AWC never trailed after that in a 73-59 win over Central Arizona College (17-9 overall, 13-5 ACCAC). She poured in a career high 21 points on 7-11 shooting.
The win tied the two teams in the conference standings, but AWC holds the tiebreaker with four games left in the regular season.
After Roberts put AWC up seven, Central Arizona battled back with three’s. The Vaqueras hit four three’s to claw back and tie the game at 40 halfway through the quarter.
Meanwhile, Arizona Western kept attacking the basket. RJ Blackburn and Gloria Mulumba scored four points for a 44-40 lead, and AWC never trailed from that point on.
Central cut it to 44-42, and then Rei Imamura stepped up big with eight straight points for AWC. The sophomore from Japan put the Lady Mats up 52-44 with 1:10 to go in the third quarter off a layup. Imamura had 10 points in the game.
The Vaqueras scored four straight to end the third, and Jamie Young hit a three to start the fourth quarter to trim the AWC lead to 52-51. Young led CAC with 17 points and hit five three’s.
The three’s dried up after that for Central Arizona thanks to a stifling Lady Matador defense. AWC forced Central to go 4-17 in the fourth quarter with only one made three. AWC’s offense reeled off a 14-2 run during a five minute stretch to push the lead to double digits. Mulumba hit a layup off a pass from Destiny Gonzalez, and Raven Roberts made a tough runner from the baseline to start the run. Nicole Smith capped the run with an offensive rebound and putback on the fast break with 4:00 left.
AWC’s Aimee Brett drilled a straightaway three that extinguished any hope for Central Arizona with 2:50 to go. That pushed the lead to 69-55, and the Lady Matador defense stayed locked in to keep Central’s offense off balance. Roberts went 3-4 from the free throw line to close out the win in the final minute.
In the first half, the Lady Mats seesawed between making shots and struggling with turnovers on offense. AWC turned it over 14 times in the first half and nine times in the first quarter, but the defense kept them in it.
AWC only allowed Central Arizona to hit nine shots in the first half and held the Vaqueras to 28% shooting from the floor. Six of the nine Vaquera makes were three’s, and Central didn’t make a two-point shot in the second quarter.
The Lady Mats were down 10 points at one point in the first quarter after CAC hit three three’s in the opening 10 minutes. Roberts whittled the gap down with five points at the end of the quarter to make it 18-13 to start the second quarter.
At the start of the second quarter, Imamura stole a pass and threw a long pass to Roberts up the floor. Roberts hit Gonzalez on the fast break for a bucket, and that jump-started a 12-4 run for AWC. Brett put AWC up 23-22 with a shot, and then Roberts made it 25-22 for AWC’s largest lead of the first half.
Central hit a pair of three’s while AWC’s Josselyn Morris hit a three of her own to send the game to halftime tied at 28.
Gonzalez had 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists for AWC.
Megan Guadian had 14 points, all in the first half, for Central Arizona.
The Lady Mats are headed to Glendale Community College on Saturday with only four games left in the regular season. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on 560 AM KBLU.
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.