The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (29-4) opened play in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament on Tuesday in Danville, IL and made a statement in the second half of play.
No. 2 seed Pima defeated No. 15 College of Southern Maryland 108-84 to advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight year. The Aztecs outscored the Hawks 59-37 in the second half.
Up 67-62 with 13:46 left to play, the Aztecs went on a 14-0 run in the next three minutes to take an 81-62 lead. The Aztecs held the Hawks to just six points scored in almost eight minutes to take control.
The Aztecs played a back and forth first half with the Hawks. Down 27-25, the Aztecs went on a 20-4 run to take a double digit lead at 45-31 but the Hawks countered with a 9-0. They finished the half outscoring the Aztecs 16-4. The Aztecs led 49-47 at the break.
Sophomore Justin Bessard scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half with eight rebounds and five blocks. He shot 8 for 10 from the field. Fellow sophomore Ilunga Moise (Raymond S. Kellis HS) was unstoppable on the boards as he finished with a double-double of 17 points and 24 rebounds. He was also 6 for 7 from the free throw line.
Freshmen Abram Carrasco (Cholla HS) and Jeremiah Bailey led the bench play. Carrasco scored 19 points on 7 for 9 shooting to go along with four assists. Bailey had 14 points on 4 for 6 shooting with seven rebounds. The bench scored a total of 41 points for the Aztecs.
Sophomore Isaiah Murphy finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists while sophomore Alize Travis had 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The Aztecs will play the winner of No. 7 seed Richard Bland College (VA) and No. 10 Highland Community College (KS) which takes place tonight at 8:30 p.m. (CDT). The quarterfinal game will be on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. (CDT), 6:00 p.m. Tucson time.
This story was provided by the Pima Community College’s Sports Information Office.