Aztecs men's basketball top Waubansee CC to open NJCAA Tournament

Sophomore Damon Dubots was in foul trouble but managed nine points and 11 rebounds in Pima's 93-84 win over Waubansee Community College (IL) to open the NJCAA Division II Tournament. Aztecs play No. 1 seeded Southwestern Community College in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Photo by Ben Carbajal
Sophomore Damon Dubots was in foul trouble but managed nine points and 11 rebounds in Pima's 93-84 win over Waubansee Community College (IL) to open the NJCAA Division II Tournament. Aztecs play No. 1 seeded Southwestern Community College in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Photo by Ben Carbajal

The Pima Community College men's basketball team (22-11) advanced to the Elite 8 of the NJCAA Division II Tournament on Tuesday as the Aztecs led from start to finish against Waubansee Community College (IL).

The No. 8 seeded Aztecs defeated the Chiefs (25-9) 93-84 in the first game of the tournament in Danville, IL.

Up 40-32 early in the second half, the Aztecs got a boost from sophomore Emilio Acedo (Salpointe Catholic HS), who drained three-pointers as part of a 14-4 run to give Pima their biggest lead of the game at 54-36 with 16:03 remaining. Pima led 61-44 but Waubansee went on an 8-0 run to cut it to single digits at 61-52. Sophomore Jacob Anastasi (Cactus Shadows HS) and James hit back-to-back three-pointers to end the run and make it 67-52 with nine minutes left. The Chiefs would get as close as seven points in the final minute.

The Aztecs made their final 21 of 22 free throws and finished the game 35 for 41 from the line.

The Aztecs opened a double digit lead in the first three minutes of the game after sophomore Damon Dubots converted on a three-point play to make it 12-2. Waubansee scored its first field goal at the 17:03 mark of the half. Sophomore Deion James (Empire HS) picked up two quick foul and sat for the final 16:41 of the half.

With James out and Dubots and freshman Ilunga Moise (Raymond S. Kellis HS) also in foul trouble, the Aztecs turned to freshman Keegan Biggers (Tucson HS). He grabbed two key offensive rebounds with put backs to give the Aztecs a double digit lead again at 35-24. He finished with four points and five rebounds in six minutes of play. The Aztecs closed out the half on a 10-4 run to take a 40-30 lead at the break.

James finished with a game-high 31 points as he went 13 for 13 from the free throw line. Anastasi finished with 18 points while Acedo contributed with 14 points as he hit four 3-pointers. Dubots had nine points and 11 rebounds while freshman Alize Travis finished with six points, 11 assists and four steals.

"We just got onto the open floor, got layups and made our free throws," Acedo said. "We played zone in the second half and it helped us keep our legs, that's the only big adjustment. We started strong but we got tired because it's early in the day. We played well under the circumstances. We had the tempo the whole game."

Acedo was asked if the team would be intimidated playing the No. 1 seed.

"We're not intimated. We'll play our game and hope for the best."

Southwestern Community College, the No. 1 seed, leads Southern Maryland 77-59 with six minutes left.

The Aztecs will be off Wednesday but come back for their quarterfinal game on Thursday against No. 1 Southwestern Community College (IA) at 1:00 p.m. (CDT); 11:00 a.m. (MST).

WCC     30     54     84
PCC      40     53      93