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Whitt gets shot working in win over Thunderbirds
It took Marvin Whitt a while to get his shot working.
But with the way the Arizona Western defense was playing Wednesday, it didn't matter.
Whitt scored 22 points — all but five in the second half — in the Matadors' 57-44 win over Mesa.
“Coach just told me to keep shooting the ball and be aggressive, and that's what I try to do,” Whitt said. “I'm glad my shots were falling tonight.”
The Matadors (15-4 overall, 10-1 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) never trailed in the game. The Thunderbirds (14-5, 9-2) got to within three early in the second half, but a 13-1 Matador run — the first seven by Whitt — pushed the lead to 38-23 and the lead was never in single digits again.
“We did really good. We did an excellent job on defense,” Whitt said. “We still had a couple breakdowns early on, and we have to go back and watch the film and correct our mistakes, but overall it was a good team win.”
Coach Charles Harral said Whitt was the difference in the game, along with the 12 points and seven rebounds by Darien Walker.
“Marvin and Darien were the only two guys really scoring,” Harral said. “Darien did his scoring driving to the basket, but Marvin loosened things up, was the only one hitting outside shots. He was definitely the difference in the game with his outside shooting.”
Whitt was 8 for 18 from the floor and 3 for 10 on 3-pointers in the game. He added three rebounds and five assists and had just one turnover.
Whitt made just 2 of 8 shots in the first half.
“I really don't look at it as if I have to score,” Whitt said. “If I have the shot, I have the shot. If not I'll pass it. But I'm always confident. If you don't stay confident you get taken out of your game. So I just wait for those shots to fall.”
Harral said his confidence comes from experience.
“He's played here 50, 55 games — whatever it is,” Harral said. “He's just a college basketball player and he knows how to help you win.”
Tanner Clayton added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Matadors, who finish the first half of the season in a first-place tie in the conference with fellow Division I school Central Arizona. Christian Griggs-Williams was the only Thunderbird in double figures with 12.
Harral called the win a total team defensive effort, and Whitt credited the coaching staff for that.
“That's all on our coaches and them getting us prepared,” Whitt said. “We all stayed focused. I'm glad the guys bought in to what coach said.”