Rally falls short for CAC men in loss to Eastern Arizona
Down by six points at halftime against Eastern Arizona at the George Young Activity Center, the Vaqueros twice narrowed the margin to two points before falling 92-81.
"We couldn't make up that gap," CAC coach Tramaine Aaron said. "We weren't 100 percent focused, not as mentally tough as we should be, and (Eastern) hit some timely shots."
The loss dropped CAC into a tie with the Gila Monsters in their battle for the fourth and final berth in the Division I Region 1 tournament. With 12 games remaining in the regular season, there's still plenty of basketball to play.
"We can't put our heads down," Aaron said. "There's a lot of season left. We have to regroup."
After rallying to defeat Chandler-Gilbert on Jan. 11 and coming back from a 19-point deficit against Pima on Saturday, the Vaqueros (10-8, 3-7 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) could not get overcome Eastern (10-8, 3-7) and its one-two punch of DeAndre Love and Nate Bradford. Love scored 27 points and Bradford had 26 on 10-of-15 shooting.
Up 45-39 at halftime, the Gila Monsters took a nine-point lead at 52-43 on Bradford's basket with 17:19 to play. The Vaqueros hung tough, however, getting within 63-59 on a 3-pointer by Karriem Simmons with 11:39 left and 63-61 on JaQuan Johnson's free throw with 10:23 remaining.
After two free throws by Love gave the Gila Monsters a 77-71 lead with 5:06 to play, Central again reduced the deficit to two at 77-75 when Isaiah Bellamy stole an inbounds pass and made a layup with 4:53 to play.
The Vaqueros were limited to one field goal — Johnson's 3-pointer — on their final 11 possessions.
Love's basket with 1:19 left put the Gila Monsters up 88-77, and Eastern closed it out by making 4 of 6 free throws in the final minute.
Simmons scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half, going 6 for 12 from the field after a 1-for-7 first half. Bellamy finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Calvin Johnson Jr. had 13 points, and the Vaqueros got 11 from JaQuan Johnson and 10 from Girts Lazdans.
Central connected on just 3 of 21 3-point attempts and shot 34 percent overall. Eastern made 9 of 25 3-pointers and shot 44 percent.