The Pima Community College men's basketball team (22-12) dug itself out of an early deficit and took the lead but Southwestern Community College (34-1) proved to be too much down the stretch.
The No. 8 seeded Aztecs fell to the No. 1 seeded Spartans 81-75 to push the Aztecs into the consolation bracket.
More than halfway through the second half and the Aztecs trailing by five points, sophomore Emilio Acedo (Salpointe Catholic HS) drained his fifth 3-pointer of the game to close the gap to 62-60 with 6:46 left. The Spartans countered with a 9-3 run in the next two minutes to take a 71-63 advantage. Down 75-68 with 3:02 left, sophomore Deion James (Empire HS) went 1 for 2 from the foul line and on the next trip down court, converted on a three-point play to make it 75-72 with 2:20 left.
The Aztecs cut the lead to three points one final time when freshman Alize Travis scored to make it 78-75 with 50.2 seconds left. The Spartans missed a shot but grabbed an offensive rebound to force the Aztecs to foul. The Spartans scored their final six points of the game at the free throw line.
The Aztecs fell behind in the first half as the Spartans hit nine 3-pointers to take a 35-19 lead forcing the Aztecs to call timeout with 4:48 left in the half. Pima fought back as they went on a 16-3 run to make it 38-35 at the break. Freshman Isaiah Murphy (Cienega HS) scored seven points during that stretch.
The Aztecs carried the rally over into the early minutes of the second half as Acedo tied it with a three-pointer on Pima's first possession. James hit a pair of free throws to give the Aztecs their first lead of the game at 40-39. Sophomore Damon Dubots hit a long jumper and grabbed an offensive rebound to score inside while Acedo dropped another three-ball to give the Aztecs a 47-41 lead with a little over 14 minutes remaining.
The teams went back and forth for the next seven minutes as there were seven ties and eight lead changes for the game.
Acedo finished with a team-high 24 points as he went 5 for 9 from three-point range. Murphy scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half and also had six rebounds and four assists. James had a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds but went 3 for 18 from the field.
The Aztecs will play the loser of Parkland College/Richard Bland College on Friday at 1:00 p.m. CDT; 11:00 a.m. (MST). The winner will advance to the fifth place game on Saturday.
PCC 35 40 75
SWCC 38 43 81