Pima Community College sports

Pima men victorious in NJCAA Division II consolation-bracket game

Salpointe grad Dillan Baker goes up for a shot against Hocking College (NJCAA photo)

Pima media-relations director Ray Suarez contributed information for this report:

The No. 9 Pima Community College men’s basketball team is still alive in the NJCAA Division II tournament after picking up a 107-92 win on Thursday against No. 16 Hocking (Ohio) College in the seventh-place consolation bracket at Danville, Ill.

The Aztecs (29-5) defeated the Hawks 107-92 after rallying in the second half.

Their point total secured the 20th game of the season of scoring at least 100 points.

The Aztecs will play on Friday at 9:00 a.m. Tucson time against No. 10 St. Clair (Mich.) County in the seventh-place bracket semifinals.

Pima and the Hawks (24-8) traded points in the opening three minutes of the second half.

Hocking held a 57-52 lead, but sophomore Dillan Baker (Salpointe Catholic) hit his first 3-pointer of the game.

Freshman Cohenj Gonzales followed it up with a 3-point play and Baker hit another shot from beyond the arc to cap a 9-0 run as Pima went up 61-57, forcing the Hawks to call timeout with 15:36 left.

Up 69-67, the Aztecs went on an 8-0 run as Baker scored five straight points and Alexander converted on a 3-point play to make it 77-67 with 11:49 left.

The Hawks continued to hang around and cut it to 80-74 with about 9:30 to play.

The Aztecs used a 15-2 run in almost four minutes to put the score at 95-76.

They never surrendered their double-digit lead again.

Their biggest margin was 20 points at 107-87 late in the game.

The Aztecs outscored the Hawks 61-41 in the second half.

Hocking went on a 7-0 run midway into the first half to take a 24-19 lead and went up by double digits at 49-39 with 1:21 left.

Baker hit a jumper while Gonzales drained a 3-pointer as the Aztecs cut the deficit to 51-46 at halftime.

·Gonzales finished with a game-high 30 points as he went 10 for 19 from the field and 8 for 11 from the free throw line to go with four rebounds and four assists.

“After our loss on Tuesday (to Des Moines Area), we were obviously feeling down. We didn’t want to go out like that. We knew we had something to prove and we’re here for a reason,” Gonzales said. “I came out with a lot of energy, trying to get us all going. The second half came, and everyone started getting in and contributing. We played hard and got the win.

“We had a lot more energy in the second half. It was the whole team and the bench that got us going. Dillan hitting those threes and shots was really big for us. That’s one of the main reasons we went up so much was he was hitting those shots. Jaylen (Alexander) started moving dudes down low and started scoring easily. That’s what we should have been doing in the first half, but we didn’t but we made the adjustments.”

Baker hit all four of his 3-pointers in the second half as he scored 15 of his 22 points in that half. He also grabbed four rebounds.

Alexander sat for much of the first half in foul trouble but was a force in the paint scoring 19 of his 21 points in the second half. He went 9 for 10 from the field with five rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

“Everyone holds each other accountable, and we all talked it out (at halftime), and by doing that, it’s a formula to win,” Baker said. “We need to play our game and stop forcing things. My shot was falling the first half or the last game. It’s just something I had to accept and do other things. I got in my head a little bit, talking to myself, ‘you know who you are and just come out and just shoot.’”

Baker called Alexander and freshman Gabe Oldham, who finished with a double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds, the two engines of the team.

“When they get going, it opens up everything,” Baker added. “When we get going it opens up things for them. It’s a relationship of big-to-guard and when both of us are going at the same time like today, I think we’re unstoppable.”

Freshman Wes Ball (Marana) closed out the game with eight points and 12 rebounds off the bench.

The Aztecs shot 59.7 percent from the field (40 for 67).

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