It wasn’t pretty, but Mesa Community College still captured a 51-40 victory over visiting Phoenix College Tuesday in the semifinals of the NJCAA Region I women’s playoffs.
The top-seeded Thunderbirds (17-13) had 34 turnovers, but went on 14-2 and 8-2 runs in the second half to put away the fourth-seeded Bears and advance to Thursday’s final against second seed Chandler-Gilbert at MCC.
CGCC defeated visiting Phoenix South Mountain 74-66 in the other semifinal.
Andrea Videbeck had a triple-double for CGCC, scoring 15 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out 12 assists while Diolani Oshima led all scorers with 25 points.
“We won the game,” said MCC coach Kori Stephenson, mostly unconcerned about her team’s offensive struggles against Phoenix. “There may have been a few jitters to start the game, but this is a big-time game for them. We will continue to do what we have been doing, and continue our goal to get our team to the banquet.”
That goal requires the team to win the region, but it will have to get past last year’s champions to advance to the national tourney.
The Coyotes will bring leading scorer Sarah Hays, who finished first in the ACCAC and fifth nationally at 20.7 points per game.
The two teams split their two regular season games.
“It will be a battle,” Stephenson said.
Danielle Reiher led the Thunderbirds Tuesday with 16 points, while Alissa Ingallina had 10 points.
Despite the turnovers, Phoenix College was unable to make any headway in the game thanks to MCC’s defense and poor shooting from the Bears. Phoenix (7-23) shot just 16 of 59 from the field.
The Thunderbirds went nearly 10 minutes without a basket, but made it up with free throws and clutch baskets.
On the men’s side, MCC lost to Cochise College 94-83 in the first round of the NJCAA Region I playoffs.