The Pima Community College men's basketball team (29-4) opened play in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament on Tuesday in Danville, IL and made a statement in the second half of play.
The No. 2 seeded Aztecs defeated No. 15 College of Southern Maryland 108-84 to advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight year. The Aztecs outscored the Hawks 59-37 in the second half.
Up 67-62 with 13:46 left to play, the Aztecs went on a 14-0 run in the next three minutes to take an 81-62 lead. The Aztecs held the Hawks to just six points scored in almost eight minutes to take control.
The Aztecs played a back and forth first half with the Hawks. Down 27-25, the Aztecs went on a 20-4 run to take a double digit lead at 45-31 but the Hawks countered with a 9-0. They finished the half outscoring the Aztecs 16-4. The Aztecs led 49-47 at the break.
Sophomore Justin Bessard scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half with eight rebounds and five blocks. He shot 8 for 10 from the field. Fellow sophomore Ilunga Moise (Raymond S. Kellis HS) was unstoppable on the boards as he finished with a double-double of 17 points and 24 rebounds. He was also 6 for 7 from the free throw line.
Freshmen Abram Carrasco (Cholla HS) and Jeremiah Bailey led the bench play. Carrasco scored 19 points on 7 for 9 shooting to go along with four assists. Bailey had 14 points on 4 for 6 shooting with seven rebounds. The bench scored a total of 41 points for the Aztecs.
The Aztecs will play No. 10 Highland Community College (KS) (26-7) in the quarterfinal game on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. (CDT), 6:00 p.m. Tucson time.
CSM 47 37 84
PCC 49 59 108