Matador women struggle early then blow out Tohono O'odham
AWC 37-52 — 89
TOCC 16-24 — 40
Matadors — Samantha Wallace 23, Muanandibu 13, Fountain 12, Villescaz 11, Stane 10, Pagala 6, Simpson 5, Longomo 4, Brown 3, Lyons 2
Jegos — Jasmine Suarez 15, Danehy 5, Nelson 5, Begay 5, Yazzie 5, Galez 3, Shoben 2
It took the Arizona Western women's basketball team more than 11 minutes to take the lead for good over Tohono O'odham on Wednesday night.
The Matadors eventually settled down for an 89-40 win over the Jegos at The House, but Arizona Western coach Patrick Cunningham was less than pleased about the start.
“You spend a couple of days managing expectations and try and prepare them to come out with some focus, and they didn't quite catch the memo,” Cunningham said.
It was looking like the Matadors (16-5 overall, 8-3 in Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) might run out of timeouts in a hurry.
On the second possession of the night for the Jegos, freshman guard Jasmine Suarez hit a deep 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock, which caused Cunningham to call timeout. Moments later, when a layup by Tohono O'odham freshman post Cassandra Shoben made it 5-2, Cunningham called his second timeout.
The Matadors took their first lead five minutes into the game on a basket by sophomore guard Imari Lyons but Suarez responded with another deep 3-pointer to make it 8-6 with 13:37 and caused Cunningham to call – yet another – timeout.
“At that point I'm just trying to reason with my team,” Cunningham said. “It's like, you know what, you're going to win this game by a lot, but you're pretty much embarrassing yourself at this point and there's no point in that. You're just trying to instill some effort, some intensity and interest.”
It wasn't until a basket by Matador freshman post Samantha Wallace made it 11-10 with 8:22 left in the first half – and kick started a 11-0 run for AWC – that the Matadors took the lead for good.
Wallace had a big night against the undersized Jegos. The 6-foot-3 post had 23 points on 11 for 19 shooting and 12 rebounds against a Tohono O'odham team whose tallest player stands 5-foot-11. The Matadors had all 10 players score on the night, including Emilie Muanandibu (13), Nicole Fountain (12), Nikki Villescaz (11) and Jazmin Strane (10) each in double-figures.
Tohono O'odham (2-17 overall) was led by Suarez, who scored 15 points on five 3-pointers – two of which caused Cunningham's early timeouts.
“You spend two days telling them they have a kid that can shoot for is high-percentage from threes and they don't pay attention to her,” Cunningham said. “That's a lack of interest.”
The Jegos' two wins of the season came from a 71-57 victory over Oglala Lakota and when Chandler-Gilbert had to forfeit its 103-66 win over Tohono O'odham at a tournament at Eastern Arizona. It's the first year of the program for the Jegos women, so they are playing a non-conference schedule this year.
“Mentally, it's hard for youngsters to gear up games where you know what the result is going to be,” Cunningham said. “Offensively we were trying to do too many things (early in the game) and defensively we didn't have any interest.”
The win gives the Matadors a five-game winning streak – after suffering losing two consecutive contests for the first time all season – although it has been the only victory with plenty of breathing room. Arizona Western survived Phoenix College with a 64-61 win, took down South Mountain 70-61, barely beat Mesa 66-61 at home and escaped the game at Pima with a 63-60 overtime victory.
“We got some recovery ankle injuries and bumps and bruises,” Cunningham said. “So for that, it's good to have a game like this where we can sit a couple of kids and limit some of the players' minutes.”