Women Win Region I Championship With 58-45 Victory Over Pima
MESA, AZ - Overcoming an early 11-0 deficit, the second-ranked Mesa women took a three-point halftime lead and surged to a 58-45 victory over Pima to capture their second consecutive Region I, Division II championship. The T-Birds will now move on to the NJCAA national tournament in Peoria, Ill., beginning March 19.
Mesa and Pima have met in the last four regional finals, with the T-Birds coming out on top the last two seasons. MCC will take a 24-6 record into the national tournament. The 16-team bracket will be announced Monday.
The T-Birds got off to an awful start, missing their first eight shots. But they righted the ship quickly and eventually closed the first half on a big run.
After falling behind by 13 points, 18-5, with 11:09 to go in the half, MCC took control, out-scoring the Aztecs, 20-4 the rest of the way.
When Pima pulled to within one, 28-27, early in the second half, the Thunderbirds gradually pulled away, building as much as a 14-point margin, 47-33, with 8:34 to play on a layup by Nikki Buck (So., Round Valley, AZ/Round Valley H.S.).
As the largest and most enthusiastic crowd in several years roared its approval, Mesa continued to force PCC turnovers, eventually totaling 23. Pima could get no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Peace Amukamara (Fr., Goodyear, AZ/Millennium H.S.), who was named tournament MVP, paced the T-Birds with 13 points while Mariah Willadsen (Fr., Mesa, AZ/Red Mountain H.S.) added 12. Those two also added seven rebounds each.
Felicia Foster was the only Aztec player to score in double figures with 10. A'jha Edwards, one of the nation's leading rebounders, grabbed 19 boards.
Both team shot poorly from the floor; Mesa .286 and Pima .273. PCC, however, hurt itself by going 4-23 on three-pointers. Mesa was 9-24.