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Mats' potent offense blows out Eastern Utah
Carlos Perez and Darien Walker provided the appetizer of red-hot shooting for the Arizona Western men's basketball team. A brief but brutal 3-point barrage by Denocchio Pierce was the main course.
Perez and Walker scored 21 of the Matadors' points during a big first-half run, then Pierce made four straight 3-pointers in the second half to ice AWC's season-opening 93-61 win against Eastern Utah at The House in the '12 Desert Classic.
The Matadors never trailed in the contest, but held on to a 14-12 lead 5:30 into the contest. After a Pierce bucket, Walker scored the next nine for the Matadors, including kicking off an 8-0 run. Perez scored the next eight for the Matadors on the way to the lead growing to 40-23.
“We came out with a lot of intensity, ready to play,” Pierce said. “Everybody was anxious to play — a lot of new faces, a lot of freshmen. Everybody was ready to get the show on the road, start playing.”
The lead shrunk to 12 just 92 seconds into the second half, but Pierce made four 3-pointers in 1:57 as part of a 19-0 run that took just 3:39 off the clock and gave the Matadors a 63-32 lead.
“(I was thinking) Just play basketball,” Pierce said. “Just do what it takes to get my team a ‘W.'”
AWC coach Charles Harral said Pierce — who finished with a game-high 22 points on 5 for 8 shooting on 3-pointers — had about as good a stretch as possible
“That's obviously the best he shot it,” Harral said. “You're normally not going to shoot it better than that. But he's shooting with confidence, and if he continues to play defense like that and get out and get easy baskets, I think that just opens up his outside shooting for him even more.”
Walker finished with 21 points off the bench for the Matadors. Harral said he expected different players to step up every night, and with relatively quiet games from Marvin Whitt (two points, 1 for 6 shooting, five assists in 19 minutes) and Aaseem Dixon (11 points, four assists in 24 minutes), he said he still expects that to hold true.
“I didn't have to play Marvin because Anthony (Alston) was playing good and we got a lead,” Harral said. “He's obviously capable of scoring a lot of points, so is Aaseem. He was good tonight, and solid, and showed a lot of leadership for the rest of our guys.”
Alston had 10 points and Carlos Perez had 13 and seven rebounds for AWC. Tanner Clayton had 10 rebounds and four blocks to anchor the Matador defense.
The Matadors conclude the tournament tonight against No. 24 North Idaho.
“Anytime you win like this it helps with confidence,” Harral said. “However, it could be overconfidence. We talked about it in the locker room, North Idaho is a great team, they have great players, they played a great game today and it will be a really tough game for us tomorrow night.”