Aztecs women's basketball fall short at Mesa; claim No. 2 seed for Region I tourney

Sophomore Sydni Stallworth scored 10 points with eight rebounds and seven assists but the Aztecs fell short again against Mesa Community College 60-58. The Aztecs are now 21-7 overall and 15-6 in ACCAC conference play. They will be the No. 2 seed in the Region I, Division II tournament in a few weeks. Photo by Ben Carbajal.
Sophomore Sydni Stallworth scored 10 points with eight rebounds and seven assists but the Aztecs fell short again against Mesa Community College 60-58. The Aztecs are now 21-7 overall and 15-6 in ACCAC conference play. They will be the No. 2 seed in the Region I, Division II tournament in a few weeks. Photo by Ben Carbajal.

The Pima Community College women's basketball team (21-7, 15-6 in ACCAC) played in another tightly knitted game against Mesa Community College (20-9, 16-5) on Saturday that came down to another final shot.

The No. 5 ranked Aztecs fell to the No. 16 Thunderbirds 60-58 after a final heave towards the basket fell short for the Aztecs. They will be the No. 2 seed heading into the NJCAA Region I, Division II tournament starting Tuesday, Mar. 7.

Down 59-54 with one minute left, sophomore Sydni Stallworth (Palo Verde HS) hit a three-pointer. The Aztecs cut it to a one-point deficit at 59-58 when Stallworth went 1 for 2 from the free throw line with 20 seconds left. The Thunderbirds hit a free throw with 15 seconds left. Sophomore Denesia Smith (Cienega HS) missed a shot inside the free throw line and Mesa recovered the defensive rebound. After a quick foul, Mesa missed two free throws but there wasn't enough time for the Aztecs to beat the buzzer.

The Aztecs started the game red-hot from the field as they shot 75 percent from the field in the first quarter to take a 22-11 lead. Sophomore Bree Cates was 6 for 6 from the field; which included going 3 for 3 from three-point range for 15 points. Pima led by as much as 14 points at 26-13 with 7:13 left in the second quarter.

The Thunderbirds went on a 7-0 run and then another 9-0 run to close out the first half as the Aztecs gripped on to a 31-30 halftime lead. The Aztecs went 0 for 6 from the free throw line in the first half.

The Aztecs and the Thunderbirds had five lead changes in the third quarter but Mesa closed out the quarter with another 9-0 run as the Aztecs trailed 49-42. Pima fell behind as much as eight points at 53-45 but went on a 9-0 run of their own to retake the lead at 54-53 with 3:27 left, forcing Mesa to turn it over on five straight possessions. Mesa countered with a 6-0 run to take the lead for good.

The Aztecs were outrebounded 41-35 for the game and went 9 for 17 from the free throw line.

Cates finished the game with a game-high 22 points and six rebounds while Stallworth had 10 points with eight rebounds and seven assists.

The Aztecs were swept in the regular season head-to-head meetings with the Thunderbirds. Mesa won on a last second shot 84-81 last month at the West Campus.

The Aztecs will play their final regular season game at the West Campus on Tuesday against Arizona Western College. The game will be at 5:30 p.m. and the sophomores will be recognized at halftime.

PCC     22     9     11     16     58
MCC    11    19   19     11     60