Pima’s media-relations department contributed to this report:
Pima’s run through the NJCAA Division II tournament came to an end Thursday in the consolation round against Bryant & Stratton (Wis.) College.
The No. 7 seeded Aztecs fell to the No. 6 Bobcats 78-72 in the fifth-place consolation bracket semifinal.
They closed out the 2022-23 season with a 26-9 overall record. The 26 wins is the most since the 2015-16 team won 28 games.
Pima was forced to play catch-up against Bryant & Stratton for much of the second half and were unable to overtake the lead.
In the first minute of the third quarter, sophomore Angel Addleman (Palo Verde grad) hit a 3-pointer to put the Aztecs up 33-32 but the Bobcats went on a 12-0 run to make it 44-33 forcing the Aztecs to call timeout with 7:15 left.
The teams traded baskets for the rest of the quarter as Pima trailed 56-46 entering the fourth.
The Aztecs went on a 6-0 run to start the quarter as sophomore Aiona Johnson converted on a 3-point play to make it 56-52 but the Bobcats hit a 3-pointer to widen their lead to 59-52 with 7:36 left.
Pima chipped away again, and sophomore Luisa Chavez (Rio Rico) scored to bring it to 62-58 but the Bobcats hit another 3-pointer to make it a seven-point deficit yet again.
The Aztecs cut it to a 3-point deficit after Johnson hit another 3-pointer to make it 70-67 with 2:24 left but they would not get any closer.
Addleman fouled out at the 1:59 mark and the Bobcats scored five straight points to put the score at 75-67. Chavez hit a 3-pointer to make it 75-70 but Bryant & Stratton kept their lead secure with a couple of free throws to keep it out of reach.
The Aztecs took their biggest leads in the second quarter.
Down 17-14, they went on an 8-0 run, with Chavez scoring six of those points off of three-pointers as Pima took a 22-17 lead. The Bobcats took the lead back at 23-22 but the Aztecs responded with an 8-1 run capped off by another
Chavez basket and they held their biggest lead of the game at 30-24. The score was tied at 30 at halftime.
Chavez finished with her second straight game-high of 21 points as she went 6 for 15 from the field and 6 for 6 from the free throw line.
Johnson shot 3 for 6 from 3-point range and scored 18 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists.
“It was definitely tough to stop their posts. They hit a bunch of threes in the third and fourth quarter,” Johnson said. “This year was definitely special. Our team was very close, everyone made personal connections with each other.
“We were there for each other a lot. It was tough, knowing this could be our last game just because of how close we all are. After the game we realized that, and it just hit us. I’m looking forward to next year and seeing what the freshman are going to be.”
·Addleman added 17 points, seven rebounds while freshman Dominique Acosta (Nogales) contributed with nine points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Freshman Taina Lee talked about the sophomores and the influence they had on her as she returns to the team next season.
“The sophomores are definitely going to be missed; their leadership and perseverance really inspired me,” Lee said. “We definitely have some big shoes to fill next year but I love every single one of them. They made me feel so loved and the team felt like a big family.
“Their hard work, I saw that every day in practice and their leadership on and off the court. They set the bar high, so we just have to follow in their footsteps and make it back here next year.”