Mesa, AZ—Looking to rebound from their first Arizona Community College Athletic Conference loss to Arizona Western last week, the Mesa Community College men's basketball team (3-3, 2-2 ACCAC) lost an overtime thriller at home to the Phoenix College Bears (6-3, 2-2 ACCAC) 78-75 on Wednesday night at Theo Heap Gymnasium.
The Thunderbirds outrebounded Phoenix 47-34 and even received stellar performances from freshman Obi Megwa with 25 points and sophomore Mitch Burnett, who contributed 22 points and 12 rebounds, but only shooting 28 percent from the perimeter, falling into foul trouble early and having eight of their shots denied did not bode well for Mesa.
From the opening tip, both teams were set for a back and forth kind of night. Mesa may have buried the first bucket of the night with a jumper from Burnett, but then the Bears decided to make some noise when sophomores Kevin and Russ Davis combined for 11 points to give Phoenix the lead early on, 14-8.
After a three-pointer from Phoenix freshman Johnathan Matthews and a layup from Mesa's sophomore Nate Jimerson, the game went scoreless for the next two minutes and fifty-eight seconds until Matthews answered with another Bears basket, followed by a perimeter jumper from freshman Reilly Goulet.
Trailing the Bears 22-18 with 7:44 remaining in the first half, Megwa put on a show as he reeled off eight-straight points for the Thunderbirds, but Phoenix freshman Quinton Johnson nailed four consecutive buckets of his own to give the Bears a 33-30 lead right before the half.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Phoenix gave Mesa's Burnett just a little too much time to work with as he connected on back-to-back three-pointers, the final one at the buzzer, to give the Thunderbirds a 36-33 lead going into halftime.
The next twenty minutes of play turned quickly into a game of scoring runs as Phoenix College opened the second half on a 15-2 run, complimented by four points from Goulet and six points from freshman Avonte Nelms. Mesa then turned the tables and went on a 19-5 scoring run of their own where Megwa and Burnett combined for 13 points during that stretch, giving the Thunderbirds a 57-53 lead with just under four minutes remaining in regulation.
The Bears took momentum back quickly as three-point baskets from Nelms and Johnson put Phoenix back up late in the game, but a pair of free throws from Jimerson tied it up at 61-61. A baseline jumper from Kevin Davis put the Bears back up by two with nine seconds remaining in regulation, until a foul on the other end put Jimerson back at the line where he buried a pair, sending the game into overtime at 63-63.
Overtime started off slow for the Thunderbirds as Phoenix's Matthews hit four-straight free throws and then with the game tied at 67-67, he nailed a deep perimeter shot from the top of the key. Nelms followed up with the same, giving the Bears a 73-67 lead with 1:25 remaining in overtime.
Both teams traded free throws for the remainder of the game, and while Megwa's three-pointer with nine seconds remaining made things interesting, the Thunderbirds just didn't have enough in the tank as they lost a close one at home to Phoenix, 78-75.
The Thunderbirds will look to get back to their winning ways when they travel to Glendale Community College this Saturday at 4 p.m. to take on the Vaqueros in a crucial early season ACCAC match-up.