Ed Petruska-Contributing Writer Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — Smothering defense carried the Central Arizona College women's basketball team to a resounding victory over Cochise on Tuesday.
The sixth-ranked Vaqueras made a definitive statement with their 72-54 victory at the George Young Activity Center, holding the No. 20 Apaches to 32 points below their conference-best scoring average.
"We missed a lot of open shots, but our defense was good," CAC coach Denise Cardenas said. "It has been all year."
The Vaqueras improved to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in Arizona Community College Athletic Conference play. They led 20-8 after one quarter, 35-19 at halftime and 50-34 going into the final period.
Cochise (7-1, 2-1 ACCAC) shot 37 percent from the field, going 19 of 52 overall and 6 for 18 on 3-pointers. Central shot 40 percent, making 31 of 78 overall and 3 of 15 3s.
"Honestly, I don't think either team played very well," Cardenas said. "I felt like we played 15 good minutes. We were able to get some rebounds and make some putbacks."
The Vaqueras outscored the Apaches 21-14 in second-chance points.
CAC's Ayanna Clark led all scorers with a season-best 27 points. She came in averaging 17.7, second in the ACCAC. Mahogany Menefee added 16 off the bench, and Makayla Pippin had 11 for the Vaqueras.
Kayla Harris finished with 12 points, and Vinisha Sherrod had 11 for the Apaches.
Central missed six of its first seven shots and trailed 5-2 before going ahead to stay at 6-5 on Clark's putback basket with 4:56 left in the first quarter. A basket by Jenay Bojorquez capped a 14-0 run that extended the lead to 16-5 with 1:52 remaining in the first.
The Vaqueras closed the period by going 8 for 12 from the field. A 15-2 surge in the second quarter gave Central its largest lead of the half at 35-16 with 3:09 left. That sequence included Clark's three-point play and second-chance baskets by Clark and Menefee.
Cochise made just seven baskets in the first half, four of them 3-pointers.
The Vaqueras took a 22-point lead with 6:45 remaining in the third on a basket by Denali Hughes that made it 43-21. Central's largest lead of the game came with 4:20 remaining in the fourth quarter on Clark's basket that put the Vaqueras up 66-41.
"I'll definitely take this, and I know we'll get better," Cardenas said. "You definitely don't want to peak in November."
Cochise's Raena Suggs was held to eight points, about half of her team-leading 15.6 average.
The Vaqueras averaged 98 points in their first two ACCAC games, defeating Arizona Western 108-93 and Mesa 88-66 last week on the road.