Ed Petruska-Contributing Writer-Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — Once again, Pima proved to be a pesky opponent for the Central Arizona College women's basketball team. And once again, the Vaqueras came away with a narrow victory over the Aztecs.
Central improved to 20-3 overall and 15-0 in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference with Saturday's 80-75 win at the George Young Activity Center. On Dec. 4 in Tucson, the Vaqueras held on to defeat the Aztecs 74-70.
"Pima's a team that's never going to quit," CAC coach Denise Cardenas said.
The No. 13 Vaqueras owned a 20-point halftime lead but were outscored 21-14 in the third quarter and 28-20 in the fourth.
"We did not come out in the second half ready to go at all," Cardenas said. "We got stagnant on offense, and we did not stand our ground."
Central went 9 for 26 from the field in the second half (35%) after making 18 of 36 shots (50%) in the first two periods. Division II Pima (15-7, 9-6 ACCAC) went 7 for 31 from the floor (23%) in the first half and 16 for 34 in the second (47%).
Down 46-26 at halftime, the Aztecs narrowed the margin to three points on three occasions in the fourth quarter – the last time at 78-75 on Alyssa Perez's basket with 12.4 seconds remaining.
Ayanna Clark secured the victory by making two free throws with 10.5 seconds left.
"I'm always happy with a win," Cardenas said. "I'll take an ugly win any day. But I was not pleased."
Pima made 15 of 18 free throws in the second half and 26 of 30 overall. The Aztecs also converted CAC's 21 turnovers into 13 points.
The Vaqueras scored 12 points off 23 Pima turnovers and had a 14-11 advantage in second-chance points.
Makayla Pippin scored 20 of her team-high 26 points in the first half for Central, which never trailed. Clark, who has been named ACCAC Division I Player of the Week the last three weeks, finished with 21. She scored 13 in the second half.
Jenay Bojorquez provided 21 points, which was a season best for the sophomore guard. She hit two key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter – the first at the shot-clock buzzer to extend CAC's lead to 63-50 with 7:39 left and the second with 1:55 remaining to put the Vaqueras up 71-63.
Perez scored 14 fourth-quarter points for Pima and finished with 27. Fama Thiam had 17 points, and Hallie Lawson scored 14 for the Aztecs.
The Vaqueras closed the first quarter with an 8-0 run, getting 3-pointers from Mahogany Menefee and Bojorquez to take a 24-13 lead.
Pippin tallied 14 points in the second quarter.
CAC has won 12 of its 15 conference games by 15 points or more. The Vaqueras came in with an average victory margin of 24.3 points in ACCAC play.