The No. 13 Pima College women’s basketball team struggled to generate any kind of first quarter success on offense in its 68-57 loss to the No. 8 Mesa Thunderbirds on Saturday at the Pima West Aztec Gymnasium.
“Three pointers (were the difference) — they were on fire in the first half and that got them the lead,” Pima coach Todd Holthaus said. “To their credit, they shot the hell out of it.”
Pima (19-6, 12-5 in ACCAC) suffered a major setback after guard Priscila Varela went down with a non-contact leg injury while driving to the hoop during the opening couple minutes.
Mesa (17-7, 12-5) came storming out with a 20-5 run before the Aztecs were forced to take a timeout with 2:20 left in the first quarter.
The Aztecs then fought hard to shorten Mesa’s lead to 25-13 by the end of the first quarter.
Pima brought the game to within nine points in the second quarter due to a crucial 3-point shot made by guard Luisa Chavez (Rio Rico) to make it 35-26.
The Thunderbird then answered back with a 11-5 run to go into halftime with a 46-33 lead over the Aztecs.
Pima came out motivated for the second half and dug into the Mesa lead with the opening shots made by guard Angel Addlemann (Palo Verde) followed by a 3-point shot made by forward Torrance Begay to make it a 46-36 game before Mesa called a timeout.
Mesa responded with a 11-0 run to increase its lead to 57-36. The Aztecs were in a 60-41 hole entering the fourth quarter.
Pima outscored Mesa 16-8 in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to gain the lead back as the Aztecs would fall to their rivals.
Forward Dominique Acosta (Nogales) posted a double-double in the loss with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Chavez and Begay each scored eight points by the end of the game.
Pima will be on the road for the next two games starting with a game in Yuma on Wednesday against Arizona Western at 7:30 p.m.