Longomo, Muanandibu shine for Arizona Western women in win
For one reason or another, the Congo Connection for the Arizona Western women's basketball team hasn't exactly lit it up this year — mostly due to an injury to Lisette Longomo that caused her to miss 11 games.
On Wednesday, Longomo and Emilie Muanandibu showed what they are capable of.
The duo from the same African hometown combined for 37 points and 15 rebounds as the Matadors all but assured themselves a playoff berth with a 68-56 win against Eastern Arizona, their ninth straight win.
“They're sophomores, they're returners, and all of a sudden you hit a little bump in the road,” coach Patrick Cunningham said. “But Lisette's been getting better and better, and Emilie has been very consistent all year. We've been proud of that improvement, and tonight she finished plays. That's all we ask of her. They had trouble handling those guys.”
AWC took control of the game with a 15-2 run, erasing a 41-40 hole with 13:21 left. Muanandibu had five points during that run but scored the first seven AWC points of the second half.
The win gave the Matadors (20-5 overall, 12-3 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) a four-game lead over the Gila Monsters (15-10, 8-7) for the final NJCAA Region I Division I playoff spot with five left to play.
“Every win helps,” Cunningham said. “We're still playing for a home playoff game. We're going to try to do everything for that game. And for Eastern, yeah, they're still mathematically alive. But I told them they did a number on the mentally tonight. But we're not looking behind of us, we're looking ahead of us.”
Muanandibu scored 19 and grabbed nine rebounds, while Longomo had 18 points and six rebounds. Samantha Wallace added 12 points and eight rebounds. For Eastern, Amara Wainright scored 31, including 5 of 9 on 3-point shots, and no other Gila Monster had more than seven.
The win keeps not only the Matadors' hopes alive of catching second-place Cochise, but also first-place Central Arizona. The Matadors face both teams in the next two games, both on the road, starting Saturday in Coolidge against the Vaqueras.
“We've been playing consistent,” Cunningham said. “I think we're more mature and that shows in both ends on the floor.”