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Matador men have big second half against Cochise
Three days after not being able to get a big play when needed, the Arizona Western men's basketball team got plenty of clutch play.
Marvin Whitt and Carlos Perez scored 16 each as the Matadors never trailed in the second half of a 67-52 win Saturday against Cochise at The House.
Aaseem Dixon hit a 3-point shot as the buzzer sounded at the end of the first half, catapulting the Matadors (12-4 overall, 7-1 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) to a 34-33 lead. Then the inside game, powered by Perez and Tanner Clayton, led to an 8-0 AWC run to start the second half and Cochise (14-2 overall, 7-1 ACCAC) never got closer than four and trailed by double digits for the last 9:24.
“Coach said shoot everything with confidence and try to make big plays, and step up cause I'm a sophomore and help the team out,” said Dixon, who finished with 13 points. “That's what I did.”
The Matadors trailed 11-2 before scoring 18 straight, including seven by Whitt. Cochise got back into the game and the end of the first half was back-and-forth, culminating in Dixon's 3.
AWC coach Charles Harral used a different rotation Saturday after Wednesday's home loss to Central Arizona. He used three guards most of the night, shifting Whitt to shooting guard and playing Anthony Alston at the point. Dixon was the third guard, with Perez and Clayton providing the inside presence.
“It was a big shot,” Harral said. “Aaseem played well. He looked comfortable at the three, in the third guard position.”
The win put the Matadors into a four-way tie with Central, Cochise and Mesa at the top of the ACCAC standings.
“We needed to bounce back, and that's what we did,” Dixon said. “We've been practicing hard for two days. Thank God it helped. It worked out.”
Clayton had 13 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. Perez had eight rebound and three blocks. Harral said their presence in the middle defensively made the difference. On Wednesday, the Matadors gave up 72 to a Central team averaging almost 91 a game. Saturday, they held Cochise to barely 50 as the Apaches entered the game averaging 95.1 and hadn't lost since its first weekend.
“We had some defensive breakdowns against Central where their guards went to the basket and we had nobody there,” Harral said. “Tonight we were blocking shots; we were really protecting the basket.”