CAC women edge Mesa in OT

Ayanna Clark hits for 34 in Vaqueras Saturday night win. -Oscar Perez Pinal Central
Ayanna Clark hits for 34 in Vaqueras Saturday night win. -Oscar Perez Pinal Central

SIGNAL PEAK — Ayanna Clark couldn't give the Central Arizona College women's basketball team a win in regulation Wednesday night, missing three close-range shots in the final seconds of regulation.

Clark came through in overtime, however, scoring six of CAC's eight points as the Vaqueras pulled out an 81-79 victory over Mesa at the George Young Activity Center.

Central (5-1, 2-0 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) led by as many as 15 points in the third quarter before the Thunderbirds (2-6, 1-1) came storming back. They outscored the Vaqueras 25-13 in the fourth to force the extra session.

"This game had crazy vibes all over it," CAC coach Denise Cardenas said. "With all the crazy bounces and our foul trouble, things weren't going our way. But we kept our composure and got (the win)."

Clark scored just six points in regulation, mainly because she was in foul trouble for much of the night.

Makayla Pippin scored 23 points to lead Central. Megan Guadian made six 3-pointers and finished with 21 points and Alexis Vaughn had 10.

Diamond Fuller scored 23 points for Mesa, which is ranked No. 4 in Division II. Cheyenne Begay (18) and Iris Domebo (10) also reached double figures for the Thunderbirds.

CAC appeared to be on its way to a comfortable victory after outscoring Mesa 24-16 in the first quarter and 21-18 in the second for a 45-34 halftime lead.

The Vaqueras extended the margin to 15 points twice in the third period on baskets by Pippin, with the second one putting them up 56-41 with 4:03 remaining. Central owned a 60-48 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Mesa went on an 8-0 run to trim CAC's lead to 65-59 with 5:40 left in regulation. Guadian's 3-pointer put the Vaqueras ahead 70-63 with 3:23 left, but the Thunderbirds closed with a 10-3 surge to send the game into overtime.

Domebo's basket tied it 73-73 with 13.4 seconds left, but she couldn't convert a free throw that would have given Mesa the lead. Then came the misses by Clark.

Begay's basket seven seconds into overtime gave the Thunderbirds their first lead since being up 3-2 early on. Clark answered with tying baskets on back-to-back possessions before Vaughn's basket with 3:24 to play put CAC ahead to stay at 79-77.

Neither team scored in the final 1:52 following a basket by Mesa's Heavyn Jordan. Central was 0 for 2 from the field and 0 for 4 from the line with one turnover, while the Thunderbirds went 0 for 2 from the floor and 0 for 2 from the line with one turnover.

After shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half, the Vaqueras wound up at 39 percent for the game. They made just 3 of 14 free throws.

Mesa shot 50 percent from the floor and went 18 of 29 from the line.

Central had a 22-12 advantage in second-chance points and converted 28 Mesa turnovers into 21 points. The Thunderbirds scored 18 points off CAC's 21 turnovers.