By Curt Ashcraft
MESA, AZ – In a back-and- forth affair that was host to eight separate lead changes, the Mesa Community College men's basketball team (7-0, 3-0 ACCAC) defeated the Tohono O'odham Community College Jegos (5-7, 3-1 ACCAC), 101-92, in an overtime effort on Wednesday night in Mesa.
Tohono O'odham's freshman Adalberto Diaz may have led all scorers with 23 points with the Jegos shooting almost 50-percent from the perimeter in the first half. But 30 combined bench points from Mesa's freshman Antwan Ross-Jones and sophomore Michael Vos-Otin, including a 59-percent field goal rate for the night ultimately led to the Thunderbirds coming away with the victory.
After Mesa's sophomore Austin Denham and Tohono O'odham's freshman Thomas Wabaunsee traded three-pointers to open the game, the Jegos' sophomore Stevin Nelson and freshman D'onte Jackson put together a 10-6 scoring run to take a 13-9 lead with 16:18 remaining in the first half.
Then, after sophomore Jamil Wilson-Jones' three-point basket gave Mesa its third lead of the night, sophomore Edward Hardt scored four of Mesa's next ten points to balloon the Thunderbird lead to 30-22.
The Thunderbirds held a 39-33 lead with 2:32 remaining in the first half, but a fury of three-pointers from Diaz and Nelson helped the Jegos tie up Mesa at the half, 43-43.
As the second half started, it was Tohono O'odham's supreme perimeter play that launched the Jegos out to an early 53-47 lead, but Denham, Ross-Jones and sophomore Obi Megwa decided to show off Mesa's three-point talents as well taking a 67-64 lead with less than 12 minutes remaining in the second half.
The Thunderbirds would sustain their lead for most of the second half, leading by as many as nine points with 6:27 remaining. That's when Tohono O'odham's Jackson and sophomore Domonick McCoy put together a highlight reel that pushed the Jegos right back into the game, as they trailed 82-81 with less than four minutes to play.
With 1:10 remaining in regulation, Hardt nailed a pair of free throws that gave Mesa an 87-86 lead, but a game-tying free throw by Tohono O'odham's sophomore Bradoc Archibald sent the game to overtime at 87-87.
Entering overtime, Archibald buried a perimeter shot to help the Jegos burst right out of the gates, but a 14-5 scoring run by the Thunderbirds in overtime, led by six points from Megwa, allowed Mesa to stay perfect on the season with a 101-92 win.
The Thunderbirds will next be in action when they host the Chandler-Gilbert Community College Coyotes this Saturday afternoon at Theo Heap Gymnasium. The game is set to begin at 4:00 p.m. MST.