Mesa Community College's women's basketball team and coaching staff cheer on the Thunderbirds at the national tournament in Joplin, Missouri on March 23, 2024. (Photo courtesy of the NJCAA)

Thunderbird women’s basketball team win third place game of national tournament

The Mesa Community College women’s basketball team won their final game of the season by defeating Community College of Baltimore County Essex 60-48 on March 23 in Joplin, MO to win third place in the national tournament.

The Thunderbirds finished the season with a 28-7 overall record, going 18-5 in conference play and winning the regional championship before finishing in third place in the national tournament.

MCC started the game against CCBC Essex with good ball movement on offense and staunch effort on defense, similar to how they played against Kirkwood Community College the night before. Unfortunately, the Thunderbirds also started the game struggling on offense.

The Thunderbirds would go scoreless for the first three minutes of the game, eventually getting on the board thanks to a Jaida Brooks three pointer at the 6:43 mark of the first quarter.

The Thubderbird’s strong defense would help keep them in the game however, as MCC took their first lead of the game at the with 4:15 left in the first quarter, though the score was 6-4 as the teams both struggled offensively.

The quarter closed on an impressive isolation three point attempt by Ashiian Hunter, utilizing a crossover move to get enough separation for a shot attempt before the buzzer sounded with MCC up 9-8.

  The Thunderbirds were able to shake off some offensive struggles in the second quarter while maintaining a stifling defensive performance.

The second quarter opened with a 9-1 run by MCC as the Thunderbirds were able to get three point shots to start falling.

A separate 14-2 run later in the quarter opened up an 18 point lead for the Thunderbirds before a pair of free throws and a buzzer-beating three pointer cut the score to 32-19 at the half.

 The Thunderbirds brought the lead back up to 16, but CCBC Essex brought it back down to 11 at the end of the third quarter.

A 5-0 start to the quarter for the Knights cut the score to 45-39, bringing an 18 point game back down to just a six point deficit.

However, threes by Makenzie Shivers and Jaida Brooks on back to back possessions returned the lead back to double digits and answered a critical run being put together by CCBC Essex.

Shivers would go on to score the last nine points in the game for MCC, helping the Thunderbirds finish strong on their way to a 60-48 win.

Shivers finished with a game high 28 points with the next highest scorer being CCBC Essex’s sophomore guard Ashley Dickey with 11 points.

Shivers finished 5-10 from three point range, adding in a 9-11 effort from the free throw line along with six rebounds and two assists.

Kamiyah Hurd finished an impressive performance for MCC with 20 rebounds, while nobody else in the game reached the ten rebound mark.

Hurd’s total in just offensive rebounds, nine, or her total in just defensive rebounds, 11, would have both been enough to lead the game.

The Thunderbirds were able to get back to shooting well from three, as the team went 9-23 from three, good for 39.1%.

  • 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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