The No. 10-ranked Pima College men’s basketball team fought its way through a scrappy game with Glendale College to a narrow 99-96 victory at the Pima West Aztec Gymnasium on Saturday.
Pima (16-1, 8-1 in ACCAC) had to battle without two of its starters as Jaylen Alexander went down about 5 seconds into the game with an apparent leg injury. Sharpshooter Mike Pope has missed four games with a separated shoulder injury.
The game featured 19 lead changes and 13 ties.
Glendale (7-9, 2-7) took a four-point lead late in the second half, but the Aztecs went on a 14-3 scoring run to bring its lead back to 94-87.
The Gauchos then answered back with a 7-0 run to tie the game back at 94 apiece.
Freshman Jamison Kay hit a 3-point shot to give the Aztecs the lead back for the final time at 97-94.
Kay then grabbed a crucial rebound at the other end of the court that led to two free throws made by Pablo Gutierrez (Sabino grad) with 12 seconds left.
Pima held on to escape with the final 99-96 victory for its eighth consecutive win.
“It shows how good of a team we are, how well connected we are,” sophomore forward Traivar Jackson said. “As you can see, we still need to get connected a little bit more because I feel like this game, to me, shouldn’t have even been close.”
Pima got off to another slow start in yesterday’s game, finding itself in an early 25-12 rut.
Pima head coach Brian Peabody called two early timeouts to settle his team down and get back on track, much like the previous game with Arizona Western when he called four timeouts in the first two minutes when the Matadors took a 13-0 lead.
That tactic seemed to once again play out in his favor as the Aztecs then went on a 13-0 run to tie it up at 25-25.
Sophomore guard Cesar Saenz (Sabino) said that Peabody called the timeouts to reiterate effort in his players.
“Effort and playing hard,” he said. “We need to be able to guard people. We can’t have every team start up 10 points.”
Jackson scored six consecutive points in the run, most of them being in the paint.
Pima battled Glendale from there.
At the half, the Aztecs came out with the slim 49-48 advantage.
Saenz led the team in scoring with 24 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists.
Jackson followed closely with 20 points and six rebounds while shooting 10-of-17 from the field.
Pima’s scoring was heavily bolstered by its bench as freshman Toate Sika (Rincon/University) scored 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting with 11 rebounds and two steals.
Kay also had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds coming off the bench.
The Aztecs had yet another impressive night from the field, shooting 55 percent by the end of the game.
They will be on the road for their next two games — Chandler-Gilbert on Wednesday and Central Arizona on Saturday.
Pima’s next home game will be Jan. 25 against Phoenix College at 5:30 p.m.