The Mesa Thunderbirds got off to a quick start in their game against Arizona Western on Jan. 29. Freshman guard, Jenay Locke, accounted for two steals and five points to give Mesa a quick 7-2 lead before being pulled for a quick substitution.
Mesa’s lead jumped to eight before Locke and forward Amber Bond came back to spark a T-Bird meltdown. Locke turned the ball over on her first possession back and followed it by fouling Western’s Vanessa Aguilar on a three point attempt.
Bond went on to turn the ball over on the next two possessions as Western cut the lead to 11-12. Mesa head coach Kori Stephenson called a quick time out in an attempt to stem the bleeding and benched Bond.
Mesa’s timeout couldn’t slow Western’s momentum, however, as they forced two more turnovers and drew a foul in the next 45 seconds of game time. Fortunately for Mesa, the Lady Matadors couldn’t turn those opportunities into points.
Mesa built the lead to five in the next few minutes before Western’s Jolie Oligende drew a foul on a made jumper and converted the free throw. Mesa’s Alli Gloyd turned the ball over on the next possession and Western’s Kashara Starks hit a three pointer to tie it up at 19 with a little less than eight minutes left in the first half.
Turnovers and fouls riddled Mesa over the next two minutes as Western pulled ahead by five points. Down 19-24, Stephenson subbed out all five players on the court. The move proved unsuccessful as Western extended their lead to ten at half time, 35-25.
Much didn’t change in the second half as Western’s lead fluctuated between eight and 13 points for most of the half.
With two minutes left in the game, Mesa cut the score to 63-57 with a jumper from Christina Beuscher. Arizona Western would have none of the comeback as Oligende converted two free throws on the following possession and Kalima Blake scored on a layup with one minute left following two missed shots by Mesa.
Arizona Western would hold on for a 70-63 win to improve their record to 21-1 despite only shooting 35 percent from the field. Turnovers proved disastrous for Mesa as the Lady Thunderbirds committed 29 compared to Western’s 12. Oligende and Aguilar led Arizona Western with 19 points and 7 steals respectively. Gloyd led Mesa with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Gloyd was also named ACCAC DII player of the week for the second time in three weeks Mesa fell to 13-9 on the year and are 8-6 in conference play.