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CAC men fall short against Matadors

Vaquero Richard Polanco hustles, passes Tuesday night at home against Arizona Western
Vaquero Richard Polanco hustles, passes Tuesday night at home against Arizona Western

SIGNAL PEAK — Despite having its best offensive performance of the season, the Central Arizona College men's basketball team could not break into the win column.

The Vaqueros fell to 0-5 overall with Tuesday night's 83-75 loss to Arizona Western at the George Young Activity Center. The eight-point margin of defeat was the slimmest of the season for CAC, which came in averaging 65.5 points while allowing 85.5.

Trailing 36-35 at halftime in their Arizona Community College Athletic Conference opener, the Vaqueros claimed the lead five times during the first seven minutes of the second half. But they never were up by more than two.

There were 12 second-half lead changes followed by three ties before the Matadors, ranked No. 17 in the NJCAA poll, went ahead to stay at 62-59 on a 3-pointer by Cash Williams with 7:32 remaining. Bryson Langdon hit back-to-back 3-pointers to extend Western's lead to 70-62 with 5:46 left.

The Matadors (4-2, 1-0 ACCAC) were up by as many as 13 points before Central closed with a 7-2 run in the final 43 seconds.

"We did what we were supposed to do for 18 of the 20 minutes in the first half," CAC coach Tramaine Aaron said. "In the second half, I would say we played well for about 13 minutes. We had too many turnovers that came at the worst possible time."

Four of the Vaqueros' eight second-half turnovers came during a late five-possession stretch, which prevented them from cutting into Western's lead.

CAC's previous high point total was 71.

"It was probably one of the most positive games we've had," Aaron said. "I saw a lot of good things. We're getting better."

Richard Polanco came off the bench to provide 20 points for Central. Malachi Faison scored 18 and Meekness Payne had 10. Payne's basket with 13:12 to play gave the Vaqueros their last lead at 52-51.

The Matadors had five players reach double figures. Andre Allen led the way with 21 points. Scoring 13 apiece were Williams, Marvin Mapaga and Langdon. Alfonso Plummer, who came in averaging a team-best 19.0 points, had 12.

The Vaqueros were without 7-foot center Trever Irish, who is sidelined indefinitely with a back injury.

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