Mesa, AZ - In a game of multiple rallies, the Mesa women, ranked No. 16 in the NJCAA Division II, staged the most important one of the day and defeated ACCAC rival, and fifth-ranked, Pima, 60-58, Saturday at Theo Heap Gym to claim the top seed in the up-coming Region I, Division II playoffs.
MCC will host a Region I semi-final on Tuesday, March 7 and if it wins will host the regional final on March 11.
Trailing, 54-53 with 3:28 to play, the T-Birds grabbed the lead to stay on a jumper by Takara Wade with 3:07 to play and held off the Aztecs in the final seconds.
Layups by Allies Fuller and Anessa Glenn pushed the Mesa margin to 59-54 at the 1:31 mark, but PCC leading scorer Syndi Stallworth hit a clutch three-pointer with 58 seconds left and added a free throw with 20.1 remaining to narrow the gap to 59-58.
MCC had four free throws in the last 15 seconds and made just one, by Fuller, to account for the final margin.
The win gives Mesa a season sweep over Pima. MCC won, 84-81, in Tucson on a three-pointer by Fuller at the buzzer.
It was also the T-Birds' 20th win of the season, marking the eighth time in the last nine years reaching that plateau.
The start of the game looked like anything but a happy day for the T-Birds. Pima led by 14 points early in the second quarter, , 26-12.
A free throw by Deja Dagons seemed inconsequential at the time, but ignited an 18-5 run by MCC which cut its deficit to 31-30 at halftime,
Mesa took the lead for the first time in the game on a layup by Quynne Huggins midway through the third quarter. At that point the lead changed hands five times before Sham Troupe gave the T-Birds the lead, 44-42 at the 1:08 mark.
From there MCC surged to a 53-45 lead on another layup by Troupe with 6:35 to play. The Aztecs, however, were not done.
They ran off nine unanswered points, capped by a fast break layup by Denisia Smith to forge a 54-53 lead. The rest of the way belonged to Mesa.
Tori Lloyd led the T-Birds with 14 points and Glenn added 12 off the bench plus 12 rebounds. Bree Cates scored 22 for the Aztecs, Smith added 14 and Stalworth ten.
The T-Birds conclude the regular season Tuesday at Phoenix in a 5:30 p.m. contest.