By CASEY MUSE JR
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team rode a six-game winning streak during winter break.
The team suffered its first loss during a road contest with Cochise College on Jan. 7, and then dropped three straight games from there. The Aztecs’ second-half performances were their downfall.
With school back in session, the team looked to get back on track and find a way to play a complete game.
Jan. 14: PCC 97, Central Arizona College 103
PCC dropped it third straight game against Central Arizona College on the road.
The Aztecs were in control in the first half, leading by as much as 11. They took a 46-41 lead into halftime but could not maintain their good performance in the second half. Pima was outscored 62-51 and lost the game 103-97.
Sophomore Zach Evans led the team with 27 points and freshman Isaiah Murphy scored 15 points.
“It is important for us to get our guys playing well and for them to see the ball go through the hoop,” Evans said after the game. “Hopefully we can bring more energy the next game and to the rest of the season.”
Jan. 18: PCC 115, Mesa CC 78
The Aztecs got back to winning in a home conference game against Mesa Community College. Pima dominated the entire game, and never trailed.
Sophomore Emilio Acedo made eight 3-pointers to score a team-high 26 points. Fellow sophomore Jacob Anastasi added 23 points.
Sophomore Deion James had his 10th double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Evans also had a double-double, with 12 points and 11 assists.
“This was a really important win for us getting back on track,” Evans said. “Deion had a huge game tonight.”
Jan. 21: PCC 97, Arizona Western College 101
Pima made it close at the end but was not able to overcome a double-digit deficit against Arizona Western College in Yuma.
The Aztecs were down 94-80 with 1:46 left in the game, and then Acedo began making threes. Pima cut the lead to 4 points with 7.8 seconds left but the Matadors made their free throws and sealed the game.
Acedo finished with 22 points and six rebounds. Anastasi scored 22 points and James added another double-double to his resume with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Jan. 25: PCC 96, Tohono O’odham CC 91
Pima returned to winning ways in a road game against Tohono O’odham. It was a satisfying piece of revenge for the Aztecs, who fell to Tohono O’odham 85-82 at home in November.
The game was close throughout, and Pima found itself trailing at the half. PCC used a strong second half to close things out, outscoring the Jegos 54-43 in the period.
James led the way with 16 points. Freshman Alize Travis was huge off the bench with 13 points on 3-for-5 shooting from 3-point range as well as 4-for-4 shooting from the free throw line.
Jan. 28: PCC 98, Chandler-Gilbert CC 87
The Aztecs won their second game in a row at home against Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Pima was in control throughout the game and led by as many as 17 points in the second half.
James earned his 12th double-double of the season, finishing with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Anastasi added 24 points and seven rebounds.
“We have a very talented and unselfish team that’s willing to make the extra pass,” Anastasi said. “It’s about taking what the defense gives you. We trust each other and we all have our roles and know them and that’s vital to the team’s success.”
Murphy was the leading scorer off of the bench with 23 points. Acedo rounded out the double-digit scoring with 11 points.
Feb. 1: PCC 87 Glendale 94
The Aztecs dropped a conference game on the road against Glendale Community College.
Pima played a good first half and took a 49-45 lead into the break.
Unfortunately, the team dealt with foul trouble during the second half as sophomore Deion James resisted picking up his fifth and final foul during the final stretch. James was still able to score a team high 25 points despite being on the verge of disqualification. Freshman Isaiah Murphy contributed 16 points and sophomore Damon Dubots added 15 of his own.
The result meant a season split with the Gauchos, PCC took a previous meeting at home 108-96 in December.
Feb 4: at Eastern Arizona College, Thatcher, 7:30 p.m.
Feb 8: South Mountain CC, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.
Feb 11: at Scottsdale CC, 5 p.m.
Feb 15: Cochise College, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.