The 2023-2024 Mesa Community College’s women’s basketball team poses for a photo before their game against Southern Arkansas University tech on March 18, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Mesa Thunderbird Athletics X account.)

Mesa Community College women’s basketball team advance to next round of playoffs

The Mesa Community College women’s basketball team won their first game of the national tournament in Joplin, MO on Monday when they defeated Southern Arkansas University Tech 65-58.

The sixth seeded Thunderbirds defeated the eleventh seeded Rockets in the second round of the tournament, advancing to play the winner of three seeded Rock Valley College from Illinois and fourteenth seeded Mid Michigan College.

The game started slow as neither team reached double digit points until almost eight minutes into the game when a Jaida Brooks corner three gave the Thunderbirds a 12-9 lead. 

The Rockets hounded MCC on defense, applying full court pressure throughout the game. The Thunderbirds would finish with 21 turnovers, well above their average of 15.6 per game.

Mackenzie Shivers started strong for the Thunderbirds, hitting her only two three pointers of the game in the first quarter.

Kamiyah Hurd had a big game offensively, leading the team in scoring with 19 points on 9-13 shooting and consistently making timely plays to help keep the Thunderbirds in the game.

The first quarter ended on a halfcourt buzzer beater made by SAU Tech sophomore guard Laila Minter, cutting the Thunderbird lead to just one at 15-14.

The stifling Rockets defense kept the Thunderbirds in check for much of the second quarter, as SAU Tech would open up their largest lead of the game at 29-22 with just over two minutes to go in the second quarter.

The Thunderbirds would cut the lead to just three as the halftime score would be 29-26 in favor of SAU Tech.

The third quarter was dominated by the Thunderbirds, as MCC outscored SAU Tech 25-11 in the quarter. 

Many of the passes that ended in a Thunderbird turnover in the first half were connecting as intended and led to easy points for MCC.

The Thunderbirds also intensified their rebounding in the second half, out-rebounding SAU Tech 23-10.

MCC took a 13 point lead on a Britany Kogbara free throw with 8:42 left to go in the game, but the Rockets were not going to quit. 

A 13-4 run by SAU Tech cut the lead to just four points after sophomore guard Ty’Renisha Bowers hit a jump shot with just over two minutes remaining in the game.

A rainbow corner three from Miquedah Taliman moved the lead back up to seven and proved to be a pivotal moment as the Thunderbirds were able to keep SAU Tech at bay.

The Thunderbirds only shot ten three pointers in the game, half of their average 21.2 attempts from three per game.

MCC’s next game will be against the winner of three seeded Rock Valley College from Illinois and fourteenth seeded Mid Michigan College on Wednesday, March 20 at 6 p.m., streamed on the NJCAA website

Games can be streamed after paying for one of three viewing packages. All 2023-2024 NJCAA championships can be viewed for $100, all DII women’s basketball games can be viewed for $35, and a day pass is available for $12.

  • Adam Terro

    Adam Terro is the Sports Editor for the Mesa Legend. He joined the staff in January 2021 and first published with the Legend in fall 2020. His passion is for sports, specifically football and basketball.

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