#5 Mesa Basketball Survives Late #12 Cecil Comeback to Advance to Elite Eight

Mesa's Takara Wade (#24) knocks down her second free-throw to put Mesa up by three with 4.3 seconds remaining in the game. (Photo by Aaron Webster)
Mesa's Takara Wade (#24) knocks down her second free-throw to put Mesa up by three with 4.3 seconds remaining in the game. (Photo by Aaron Webster)

Harrison, AR - The #5 Mesa Thunderbirds women's basketball team advanced in the NJCAA DII National Tournament as they defeated the #12 Cecil Seahawks, 76-73.

Though the T-Birds took the victory, the Seahawks made things very interesting in the second half, erasing a Mesa lead that at one point was up to 18 points.

Mesa jumped out quickly in the first quarter, getting big three-pointers from Leah Goodman and solid low-post points from Diamond Fuller and Anessa Glenn.  The T-Birds had a 24-13 lead after the first period.  

Cecil and Mesa then scored evenly in the second quarter, each scoring 22 points.  The T-Birds took an 11 point advantage into halftime, 46-35.  In the first half, Mesa connected on 5-17 (29%) three-pointers while shooting 15-40 (37%) overall from the field.

The T-Birds maintain a comfortable lead heading into the second half but halfway through the third quarter, Cecil began connecting on its shots from the outside while Mesa's offense became stagnant.  Though Mesa was getting good shots, the ball just didn't want to fall.

Cecil just kept chipping away at the T-Bird lead, and with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks tied the game at 70.  Mesa was able to close it out though with clutch free-throw shooting, as the T-Birds finished the game shooting 20-23 (87%) from the charity stripe.

Diamond Fuller registered a double-double for the T-Birds, scoring 13 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.  Takara Wade finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists with Anessa Glenn scoring 12 points and pulling down eight rebounds.  Also finishing with double-digit points was Cheyanne Begay, who had 12, Leah Goodman finished with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Mesa will now move on to the Elite Eight to play Owens College out of Perrysburg, OH.  The T-Birds and Express will tip off on Thursday afternoon at 8 pm CT, 6 pm AZ time.

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