Pima College’s media-relations department contributed to this report:
Seventh-seeded Pima women’s basketball battled to a tie at halftime but was outscored by 20 points in the third quarter of its 89-75 loss Wednesday to No. 2 Community College of Baltimore County-Essex in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division II tournament at Port Huron, Mich.
The Aztecs (26-8) move into the fifth-place consolation bracket where they will play No. 6 Bryant & Stratton (Wis.) College on Thursday at 12:00 p.m. Tucson time.
Pima trailed 43-40 on Wednesday but the Knights (34-1) closed out the third quarter on a 25-8 run in the final 5:50 to take a 68-48 lead over Pima.
CCBC-Essex outscored the Aztecs 37-17 in the quarter.
Pima started off the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer from sophomore Luisa Chavez (Rio Rico grad) and Pima slowly chipped away.
Sophomore Angel Addleman (Palo Verde) scored to make it 72-55 forcing the Knights to call timeout at the 7:19 mark.
Sophomore Matehya Aberle and Addleman scored on back-to-back possessions to make it 72-59 and the Knights called another timeout with 6:10 remaining.
Chavez hit a three-pointer to cap off a 16-5 run as Pima closed it to single digits at 73-64 with 4:59 left.
The teams traded baskets with Pima’s coming from sophomore Torrance Begay to again make it a nine-point deficit at 75-66.
Pima still had a realistic shot trailing 80-70 with 2:23 left.
But the Knights scored five straight points again to make it 85-70 with 1:02 left.
“The effort was amazing tonight for sure. We play really good together as a team and stick together always; through ups and downs,” Chavez said. “We knew it was going to be a hard game. They’re (CCBC-Essex) a really good team. We were at the same score at halftime (31-31) so we were doing our job.
“Every time we’re down, we’re not a (cracked) team. We don’t get mad at each other. We know we can push it through, we know we could cut it down. We’ve always been a team that knows how to fight back and there was never nothing wrong. We just got to keep it going and see where it takes us.”
The Aztecs trailed in the early minutes but put together a 10-0 run to take a 16-8 lead in the first quarter as sophomore Aiona Johnson hit two 3-pointers as part of the run. She also hit a 3-pointer to open the second quarter to put Pima up 21-14.
The Aztecs matched their biggest lead on Aberle’s basket to make it 25-17 with 6:54 left in the half.
The Knights responded with an 8-0 run to tie the game at 25 as the teams traded points to end the second quarter. Chavez hit a jumper to tie the game at 31 at the break.
“The first 20 minutes was probably some of the proudest basketball I’ve had all year in terms of going into halftime, tied with the No. 2 team in the country, foul trouble all over the place, and people just kept stepping up,” Pima coach Todd Holthaus said. “The third quarter got away from us but they kind of looked at each other and said, ‘This is not how we’re going to end,’ and they fought back in the fourth and made it a game. I’m just real proud of them.”
Chavez finished with a game-high 21 points on 7 for 13 shooting as she posted eight rebounds and four assists.
Aberle added a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds along with three assists, three blocks and two steals.
Addleman contributed with 11 points (nine in the second half), six rebounds and five assists. Johnson went 3 for 5 from three-point range and finished with nine points.
Chavez talked about the quick turnaround playing for the third straight day on Thursday at noon.
“We talk it out. We know we want to finish our season together so our goal right now is to play till Saturday,” Chavez said. “We just got to move on and win tomorrow; and we want to finish strong.”
Holthaus also challenged his team in the locker room after the game.
“I told them, ‘Look I don’t want this ride to be over. We can still go out a winner,’” Holthaus said. “We have to turn around quick and we got to be back here tomorrow afternoon ready to go. I have no doubt with this group especially that we’ll be ready to go.”