The MCC women’s basketball team beat Phoenix College and Pima College at home in Theo Heap Gymnasium to claim the ACCAC DII Championship. The first game against Phoenix College took place in Theo Heap Gymnasium on March 7. The result was a 70-49 win in favor of the Lady-T birds. From there Mesa Community College faced Pima College in a tense game, that resulted in a win for the Lady T-Birds 74-72.
The game against Phoenix College was a harsh contrast to the game against Pima. The Lady T-Birds fought hard against Phoenix College for the entire first half. Phoenix College game out strong, extending an early 10-4 lead. The Lady T-Birds woke up and snapped back closing the score to 13-12 by the end of the first quarter. Phoenix College continued to put pressure on the Lady T-Birds for the rest of the first half.
The Lady T-Birds quickly put up points to take the lead for the first time in the game at 17-13. The Phoenix College Bears snapped back however and extended their lead after multiple runs to 29-25 at halftime. For the beginning of the second half the Bears kept up with the Lady T-Birds but by the end of the third quarter the power had shifter. The Lady T-Birds went on monster runs and outscored the Bears tremendously in the third quarter.
The Lady-T Birds didn’t let up and outscored the Bears 45-20 in the second half. The result was an impressive finish at 70-49. With this win the T-Birds moved on to play Pima, who beat Scottsdale, in the conference championship. The meeting would be the fourth time in five years these two have met in this game. No. 2 Pima College arrived ready to play but No. 1 Mesa College was ready too. In what turned out to be a nail bitter The Lady T-Birds beat the Aztecs 74-72 in Theo Heap Gymnasium.
The result of the game was a Region I ACCAC DII championship for the Lady-T birds. It took two minutes for a team to score the first basket but from that moment on the game was a dogfight. Pima college made a quick jump shot and Mesa answered with two made free throws to bring the score to 2-2. The game continued neck and neck with multiple ties until Mesa broke free on a small run pushing the score to 23-12 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lady T-Birds held the lead until the second half where the score was 46-29. The second half was more of the same, the T-birds held their lead but the Aztecs attempted to fight back. The Aztecs narrowed the gap to 50-60 by the end of the first quarter but couldn’t take the lead. Over the course of the final period the Aztecs did battle against the T-Birds, but the T-Birds retained their lead and narrowly escaped with last minute lay-ups by Anessa Glenn and Free throws by Tori Lloyd.
The buzzer sounded and the families rushed down from the bleachers. Allies Fuller climbed into the stands to hug her family. Head Coach Kori Stephenson reached out for her sons after sharing words in the huddle with her team. When the excitement settled, composure was regained and everybody got a piece of the net. Sham Troupe was named MVP of the game. She certainly deserves it for how hard she worked on the court. Other T-Birds also had stellar games. Quynne Huggins had a monster 8 rebounds. Tori Lloyd put up 11 points, seven assists and seven rebounds. Allies Fuller also put up 17 points, two blocks and four rebounds.
When asked about the game and beating Pima College for the third time this season Tori Lloyd said, “It’s literally the best feeling, not only to beat a hard team like that three times in a row but also to win a championship that’s also the best feeling…We beat them at home, first time in a long time, and then we beat them at our house, and we beat them for the championship; best feeling.”
Director of athletics John Mulhern also talked about what wins and season’s like the Lady T-Bird’s mean for other programs, “This sets the stage for all other athletic programs. Three years ago, our women’s basketball program won the conference championship just like this, they went on and won the national championship. The same year our men’s baseball program won the conference championship and won the national championship and our men’s golf team won the conference championship, they had national runner-up.”
He went on to say, “We hadn’t won a national championship in 34 years and this program set the stage for the first one and then another one, and we almost won three in one year.” The Lady T-Birds will go on to play in the national tournament again.