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Central Arizona finds 3-point shot in win over AWC
After Central Arizona didn't make a 3-point shot in the first half, Arizona Western women's basketball coach Patrick Cunningham said his Matadors forgot just how accurate the Vaquera sharpshooters are.
And they provided AWC a refresher course in the second half.
Central Arizona made six 3s in the second half after an 0 for 6 performance in the first as the Vaqueras won 58-54, their fifth straight win against the Matadors.
Brea Edwards led the 3-point barrage, making all four of her second-half shots from long range. She broke a halftime tie with a 3, then added two more during a 13-0 run for the Vaqueras (13-1 overall, 6-0 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference). The Matadors (11-4, 4-2) tied the game at 49 with 5:32 left, but Jamie Roe hit her only bucket of the game, a 3-pointer, and CAC never trailed again.
Edwards added a 3-pointer with 2:50 left for a 55-51 lead.
“Brea Edwards is an experienced sophomore leader, and she came out and knocked down her 3s,” Cunningham said. “The had six 3s in the second half and only (one) two. They made some big shots, and I thought other than that, it was a highly contested game.”
The lead was three with less than a minute left and AWC got a stop and the ball back, but Imari Lyons lost control of the ball out of bounds with 19.5 seconds left, and Edwards made one of two free throws to ice the game.
“You've got to take care of the little things,” Cunningham said. “They hit some big shots, and we dialed up a wide open 3 and missed it. We turned it over on a possession at the end. It's little things. You've got to take care of little things down the stretch, and if you don't, you don't have an opportunity to win the game.”
Central coach Denise Cardenas, a Kofa graduate, said she doesn't expect Edwards — averaging 20 points per game — to stay cold for long. She missed only two long-range shots in the first half before her perfect second half.
“I feel Brea is one of the best shooters in the state,” Cardenas said. “And she was struggling from the line early, all of her shooting early. She's our most consistent shooter. If she misses nine in a row, she's going to hit the 10th. I'm confident in that.”
AWC never trailed by more than two in the first half, and led for most of the first 20 minutes, including as much as 10-3 early. The Vaqueras actually shot worse in the second half than in the first (35.5 percent, then 28 percent) but six of their seven second-half field goals were 3-pointers.
“I think we just lost track that they could shoot the basketball,” Cunningham said. “We were trying to help out a little too much inside and you lose track of people, and they made us pay. We got caught ‘hands in the cookie jar' a little too much.”
Wallace had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Matadors, while Edwards had 25 points and nine rebounds. Nikki Villescaz led AWC with 14 points.
The game marked the return of Lisette Longomo for the Matadors, who missed the last 11 games. She played 21 minutes off the bench, filling in when Samantha Wallace and Emilie Muanandibu ran into foul trouble. She finished with two points and three rebounds.
“It was more than we really wanted her to play,” Cunningham said. “When the bigs got in foul trouble, it put her in position to play more. We kept asking, she kept saying ‘I'm fine.'”
The Vaqueras also struggled with personnel issues inside. Starter Shea Brown only played 12 minutes before fouling out, while Ijeoma Uehendu missed the game altogether.
Still, Cardenas' Central team came away with the win.
“That was a fun game,” Cardenas said. “I am really sweaty, and I felt that we were out there coaching on every possession in that one. It was a lot of fun.”