A member of the Mesa Community College men's basketball team jumps to shoot the ball in a scrimmage game against Mesa's Benedictine University on Oct. 15, 2022. (Photo by Monica D. Spencer/MesaCC Legend)

Mesa Community College basketball teams play their second straight matchup against Scottsdale Community College

The Mesa Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams traveled to Scottsdale Community College on Wednesday, Jan. 17 to play the second of back to back games versus the Artichokes.

The women’s team played first, winning 57-48, while the men’s team came up short and lost 82-69.

Women’s

The women’s team came out on fire from three point range, as three of their first four made shots were from beyond the arc.

The second quarter saw the game slow down slightly due to an increase in foul calls. SCC took advantage of the pace as they were able to run their offense through the post and keep themselves within striking distance as MCC took a 31-22 lead into halftime.

“Yea we had to recognize it. It was kind of a choppy game in that first half and I thought the girls did a good job adjusting to them calling a ton of fouls, then it went to not getting any fouls called, so I thought the girls did a good job adjusting in the moment,” said head coach Kori Stephenson about the how the team combats foul calling during a game.

Rebounding troubles plagued the Thunderbirds to start the second half, as SCC were able to get multiple second chance opportunities.

When MCC was able to secure a rebound, the offense quickly got into transition and created open layups with pinpoint passes into the paint. 

The Thunderbirds were able to stabilize their offense after the rough start to the second half and eventually ran away with the victory with a final score of 57-48, though a buzzer beating three by SCC cut what would have been a double digit margin of victory to just nine.

“Yea I thought it [the defense] looked pretty decent. The girls understood the game plan, and then the personnel. They knew who they were guarding in the moment, and that’s what’s going to happen. We do our best to take people’s strengths away,” said Stephenson.

Ashiian Hunter led the team in scoring with 16 points, going 4-4 from three point range as Mackenzie Shivers poured in four three pointers of her own.

Brittany Kogbara had a game high 12 rebounds as Shivers led the game in assists as well with three. 

Kogbara and Shivers repeated their game high performances from their previous game against SCC on Jan. 13 where the Thunderbirds narrowly escaped with a 52-51 win.

Kamiyah Hurd struggled in her first game since being named ACCAC DII Women’s Player of the Week, only scoring two points though grabbing seven rebounds. 

The women’s basketball team’s next contest will take place on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 2:00 p.m. at home against No. 16 ranked Pima Community College.

Men’s

The men’s team entered their contest against SCC following a 81-68 loss to the Artichokes on Jan. 17. only a few days prior. 

The offense started off slow, though strong defensive play kept the game close for much of the contest.

MCC played a zone defense at times in the first half, something that the team went to much more heavily down the stretch.

According to head coach Lester Neal, the zone was meant to give the SCC offense a different look than what they had been giving them in their previous matchup. Additionally, the zone was meant to help protect some MCC players from entering foul trouble, something that had been a lingering issue for Lual Lual during the tough stretch of losses so far this season.

An out of timeout three from Orlando Gonzales helped open up the offense for MCC, as from that point on in the first half the Thunderbirds were able to attack and get open looks at the basket with the SCC defense having to respect the spacing provided by MCC players on the perimeter.

The second half of the game went at a more sluggish pace, as foul calls kept both teams from getting into a rhythm. 

A questionable foul call on Pearse Long of MCC halted the momentum of a scoring run the Thunderbirds were able to put together, coming at a time where they were able to cut the game to just a four point deficit. 

“Keep playing hard. They cannot play the referee game, I don’t play the referee game, I don’t disrespect them, I don’t curse them out. Some calls are going to go your way, some calls are not going to go your way. That should be no reason why we lost,” said Neal when talking how he addresses the team during moments where the officiating may not be going their way.

MCC made only four three pointers the entire game, but each seemed to come in very crucial moments. 

A miscommunication on defense by MCC on an out of timeout play by SCC led to a wide open three pointer for the Artichokes. 

Shortly thereafter, MCC had two players cramp up in the final minutes of the game, with one leading to a four-on-five offensive possession for SCC which ended in an open three pointer to push the game out of reach for the Thunderbirds.

Though the Thunderbirds were unable to get the victory, coach Neal was pleased by the intensity shown by the team. Though the margin matched that of their previous matchup against SCC, the game was much closer for a majority of the game before the Artichokes were able to pull away late.

“The intensity for 36 minutes, that was positive. But you don’t win the game in 36 minutes, you have to bring that intensity for 40 plus minutes,” said Neal.

The men’s basketball team will  play No. 19 Pima Community College at home on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 7:00 p.m. and look to break their losing streak.

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