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AWC finds rhythm in win over Pima
For 15 minutes, neither the Arizona Western nor Pima women's basketball team led by more than three points.
Eleven straight points going into halftime by the Matadors took care of that emphatically.
The Matadors found their rhythm and the Aztecs never found their shooting touch in AWC's 74-50 win Tuesday at The House.
After that first half run — which featured eight points by Samantha Wallace — the Matadors (6-1, 1-0 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) never led by less than eight again.
“We want to reach the highest levels, and normally we shut down in the second half,” Wallace said. “It's our weakest point. So that was a big spot for us.”
The game featured shaky offense from the start. It took the Matadors 2:10 to score, and the Aztecs (2-5, 1-1) didn't score until 42 seconds later. Pima missed its first six shots and 10 of its first 11, finishing the half at 20 percent from the floor and the game at 23 percent.
“We had like four stops right there in a row at the half, and we executed some things offensively,” AWC coach Patrick Cunningham said. “That gave us some confidence going into halftime. We had a comfort level right there and they started to believe in the defense a little bit.”
The Matadors fared better from the floor, finishing the game at 52 percent, led by Wallace's game-high 25 points and 12 rebounds. Emilie Muanadibu added 12 rebounds. Jacy Pagala (10 points), Nikki Villescaz (11) and Imari Lyons (13) reached double figure points for the Matadors.
For most of the second half, the game hovered between eight and 12 points until AWC added a 15-3 run late despite playing in foul trouble. At the 11:38 mark, the Matadors had four players with three fouls each in a game they had just nine players in uniform.
“If anybody fouls out the game is over,” Wallace said. “I was being aware of that, keeping my hands up and stuff because I already had three fouls and didn't want four.”
The Matadors are without the reigning ACCAC Freshman of the Year Lisette Longomo. Cunningham said Gila Ridge grad Brontee Simpson helped stem the tide early, seeing more playing time than usual.
“She was extremely active and created some problems for them,” Cunningham said. “I was real proud of how she came in and mixed it up. That bought us some time. Then it's a matter of kids playing multiple possessions. It's kind of patchwork for us, but we got it done.”
The Matadors take a break from conference play with the Wells Fargo Classic at The House this weekend, opening Friday against Lake Region State at 5:30 p.m.