CAC women knock off No. 1 New Mexico Junior College
HOBBS, N.M. – A victory over the top-ranked team in NJCAA Division I women's basketball highlighted a season-opening road trip for Central Arizona College.
The unranked Vaqueras knocked off preseason No. 1 New Mexico Junior College 61-58 on Friday, outscoring the Thunderbirds 22-14 in the fourth quarter. CAC trailed 47-39 with 9:04 remaining before closing with a 22-11 run on NMJC's home court.
"I don't think many people expected it could happen because we haven't been on that level for a couple of years," CAC coach Denise Cardenas said. "But we have some talent. I wasn't shocked at all."
The Vaqueras prevailed despite committing 20 turnovers and missing seven of 17 free throws.
"It wasn't like we played the game of our lives," Cardenas said. "I think the best is yet to come."
Central (3-0) registered a 60-57 win on Thursday against Howard, Texas, and defeated Western Texas 79-58 on Saturday.
None of the Vaqueras' three opponents shot better than 33 percent from the field.
"Not a surprise," Cardenas said. "I know our team can score. It's a matter of us making stops" on the defensive end.
Morticia McCall scored nine of her 15 points in the final period against New Mexico, hitting a 3-pointer with 2:25 left to make it 55-55 and converting a 3-point play with 43 seconds remaining to extend CAC's lead to 60-55.
Alexis Vaughn's jumper with 1:45 left put the Vaqueras ahead to stay at 57-55. They avoided overtime when the Thunderbirds missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Vaqueras led 12-10 after one quarter and 25-24 at halftime, but were down 44-39 after being outscored 20-14 in the third period.
Central shot 43 percent from the field while holding New Mexico to 31 percent. The Thunderbirds went 15 of 23 from the line.
Clark provided 19 points and nine rebounds, and Megan Guadian had 10 points in the win over Howard.
The Vaqueras led 14-7 after one quarter, 28-24 at halftime and 45-37 going into the final period. They shot 40 percent from the floor and made 12 of 14 free throws. Howard shot 31 percent from the field and went 16 of 23 from the line.
Clark finished with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 12 rebounds against Western Texas. She averaged 19.0 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in the three games.
Jeuzel Pollins came off the bench to score 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting, and Vaughn had 12 points.
Trailing 20-18 after one quarter, CAC outscored Western Texas 20-11 in the second behind 13 points from Clark to go up 38-31 at halftime. The Vaqueras led 63-40 going into the final period after outscoring the Westerners 25-9 in the third.
Central shot 43 percent from the field and went 18 for 30 from the line. Western Texas shot 33 percent from the floor and made 8 of 12 free throws.
The Vaqueras were supposed to play their home opener on Wednesday against No. 17 Salt Lake, Utah, but that game has been moved to South Mountain Community College in Phoenix due to floor reconstruction at the George Young Activity Center. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m.