Mesa, AZ—In an attempt to make it back to the ACCAC Division II Tournament Championship game, the #2 seed Mesa Community College women's basketball team (16-15, 12-10 ACCAC) defeated the visiting #3 seed Phoenix College Bears (16-15, 12-10 ACCAC) by a score of 57-42 on Tuesday night in the ACCAC Tournament Semi-Final contest at Theo Heap Gymnasium in Mesa.
Despite trailing by three points at the half, Mesa had four different players finish the game in double figures, two of which, sophomore Natalie Stilwell and freshman Allies Fuller, recorded double-doubles.
Phoenix also helped the Thunderbirds byshooting four of 30 from the field during the second half and scoring only 14 points.
The first quarter started off with both teams trading baskets for the first five minutes of the game. With Mesa holding an 8-7 lead, baskets from Phoenix's sophomore Keshaun Clark, sophomore Airianna Sesma and freshman Alexis Delgado sent the Bears on a 9-2 scoring run to give Phoenix the lead at the end of the first quarter, 16-10.
Phoenix opened the second quarter with four straight points from sophomore Julia Cooper and Delgado, but a combined nine points from Fuller and Stilwell helped Mesa regain the lead, 21-20, with five minutes to play in the first half.
With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, sophomore Brianna Clah buried a layup that left the Thunderbirds only down by one, but back-to-back layups from Phoenix's Delgado sent the Bears into the half with the lead, 28-25.
The entire third quarter belonged to the Thunderbirds as buckets from sophomores Rebecca Rudd and Destinee Wright helped Mesa outscore the Bears 14-4 and their defense held Phoenix to only eight percent shooting from the floor for the quarter.
Carrying a 39-32 lead in the fourth quarter, sophomore Janessa Aukward nailed a three pointer to begin the final frame for Mesa, as baskets from Wright and Stilwell followed soon after.
Six combined points from Delgado and Cooper helped Phoenix close the deficit to seven, 47-40, with just over four minutes to play, but four straight free throws for Aukward and Clah, along with two final layups from Fuller gave the victory to the Thunderbirds, 57-42.
The Thunderbirds will look to win their fourth ACCAC Division II Tournament Championship in five seasons when they travel to Tucson on Saturday night to take on the Pima Community College Aztecs at 7:30 p.m. MST.