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Buzzer-beater in overtime lifts Vaqueros to win over Mesa

Richard Polanco takes it up and scores against Mesa Wednesday night at home in thrilling win.
Richard Polanco takes it up and scores against Mesa Wednesday night at home in thrilling win.

SIGNAL PEAK — The first victory of the season for the Central Arizona College men's basketball team came in jaw-dropping fashion.

James Govan banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and the Vaqueros prevailed 71-68 in overtime against Mesa on Wednesday night at the George Young Activity Center.

"There was no set play," CAC coach Tramaine Aaron said. "It just so happened he got the open look."

Govan was slated to redshirt this season before being activated for last week's Arizona Community College Athletic Conference opener against Arizona Western.

"We realized we needed a point guard," Aaron said.

And Govan came up big with four 3-pointers and 14 points.

Central is 1-5 overall, but their 1-1 ACCAC record is all Aaron cares about.

"We've been inching our way to a victory, so it feels good to get one," he said. "It was great to see we could keep our composure and bounce back after being down (60-59) late in regulation and (67-64) in overtime."

The Vaqueros led by seven at 55-48 with 7:29 remaining in regulation following an 11-4 run. But they committed turnovers on six of their next eight possessions, and Mesa (4-2, 1-1 ACCAC) responded with a 12-4 run to go up 60-59 with 2:30 left.

CAC regained the lead at 62-60 on Andrew Leonard's 3-pointer with 2:13 remaining. Mesa's Isais Pineda sank two free throws with 1:02 left for the final points of regulation.

Elijah Moore's 3-point play gave the Thunderbirds a 67-64 lead with 3:04 left in overtime. The Vaqueras tied it 68-68 on Richard Polanco's second-chance basket with 57.9 seconds remaining.

Mesa rebounded a missed 3-pointer on its next possession, then committed a turnover to set up the winning sequence for the Vaqueros.

"I'm very happy with our progress," Aaron said. "I'm pleased with this victory, but I want more."

Polanco made four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 23 points.

Moore led the Thunderbirds with 19 points, followed by Rajhan Billingsley with 12 and Jeff Perez with 10.

The Vaqueros came out on top despite missing 13 of 15 free throws. Mesa went 17 of 24 from the line.

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