Nine seconds. That ‘s how close Pima Community College was to putting an end to Central Arizona College’s streak of 144 straight conference wins in women’s basketball.
The Aztecs pulled to within a point of CAC with nine ticks left on the clock. A pair of free throws by Ashley Ellis pushed it to the final score of 75-72. A failed three point attempt by NeNe Villalobos just before the buzzer would have sent the game into overtime.
The gym was full in anticipation of a Mesa win, and Tia Morrison did all she could to make it happen. The sophomore post player from Copper Canyon HS in Phoenix scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
But in the end, it was three points that stood between Pima and an entry in the junior college history books. But, believe it or not, that’s not the whole story.
Back in December, the Aztecs and Vaqueras went head-to-ahead for the first time. The result was a 76-73 CAC victory. Three points. Again!
The last time a team in the ACCAC left with a win over the Vaqueras was Nov. 25 of 2003. Over six years ago.
The only other conference foe to test CAC this year was Mesa CC. That was a six-point loss, 73-67, very early in the season. But the Vaqueras reasserted themselves during their second encounter with Mesa in a 78-55 thumping five games ago. All was right again with the world of Vaquera basketball.
By that time, the Vaqueras were hitting their stride in preparation for another run at a national title; they have four in the trophy case already, including one last year. They changed coaches last year, but that hasn’t slowed this program down.
But maybe Pima has found a way. We’ll just have to wait until next year to find out.