Information from Pima media relations department contributed to this report:
The Pima Community College women’s basketball team stayed alive in the consolation bracket of the NJCAA Division II National Tournament on Thursday in Hickory, N.C.
The No. 9-seeded Aztecs overcame 26 turnovers as they bounced back from Tuesday’s loss in the opening round to defeat No. 16 North Platte (Neb.) Community College 69-58.
Pima (4-4) is in the consolation bracket after losing against No. 8 Illinois Central College 77-67 on Tuesday. The Aztecs will play No. 13 Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College on Friday at 10:00 a.m. They can finish as high as seventh place.
Up 26-24 at halftime on Thursday against North Platte, the Aztecs turned to sophomore Fama Thiam and freshman Jaslyn Booker (Buena grad) as they combined to score Pima’s first 12 points of the third quarter.
The Aztecs went on a 12-4 run to take their first double-digit lead of the game at 38-28 with 4:57 left in the quarter.
Freshman Luisayde Chavez (Rio Rico) scored on back-to-back possessions to increase the lead to 42-28 with 3:15 left. The Aztecs led 47-38 at the end of the quarter.
Thiam hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth and Booker scored under the basket to make it 52-39.
The Knights cut Pima’s lead to single digits at 59-50 with 3:30 left but sophomore Sierra Mich’l scored and sophomore Aaliyah Ortiz (Palo Verde) hit a pair of free throws to help the Aztecs maintain a double-digit advantage.
Thiam scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half as she added six assists and two steals. Mich’l dropped 10 of her 15 points in the second half to go along with nine rebounds and three blocks.
Ortiz had seven points and seven assists while Chavez posted seven points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Sophomore Nikya Orange (Tanque Verd) had five points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Freshman Angel Addleman (Palo Verde) added seven points and Booker had six points off the bench.
“Any win at nationals is a good win,” Pima coach Todd Holthaus said. “We weren’t pretty, but we were gritty. We often time look like a team that’s only played eight games. However, these ladies earned their opportunity and we get to play again tomorrow. All we can ask for.”