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Matadors torch net, Vaqueros in Region I opener
The Arizona Western men's basketball team picked a good time to have one of its best shooting performances of the season.
The Matadors didn't miss a shot in the first 9:40 of the second half of their NJCAA Region I opener Tuesday against visiting Central Arizona, turning a reasonably close game into an 80-53 rout.
"Everyone was so excited to play this game," center Fernando Malaman said. "Everyone was up for tonight, everyone was ready to go to nationals."
Malaman was hard to stop in the post for the third-seeded Matadors (20-11), who will play second-seeded Mesa at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Yavapai. The 6-foot-9 Brazilian freshman scored a game-high 19 points - showing some range when he connected on a three-pointer in the second half - while countryman Renato Cesar had nine.
"Fernando did a really good job," AWC coach Kelly Green said. "We did a good job of getting him the ball in scoring position, and he was very bouncey."
The Matadors stormed out of the gate, scoring the game's first eight points and taking a double-digit lead less than five minutes in. The Vaqueros (14-17) got the gap as close as six points with 9:20 remaining in the first half, but AWC scored the final five points of the half to take a 32-20 lead into the locker room.
The contest would never again be within double digits, as the Matadors singed the net at a 76 percent clip from the field in the second half (19-of-25), and finished the game shooting over 61 percent (33-of-54).
Meanwhile, Central shot under 33 percent (24-of-73) in the game, and had just three free-throw attempts, hitting one.
"I thought what we did really well was to not give them too many open looks," said Green. "That enabled us to get a lot of open baskets."
Robert Hines scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds for AWC, while Elvis Medina added 11 points and Demario Brown had nine. AWC led by as many as 34 points in the second half.