Mesa, AZ--Despite losing their last three games within the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference, the Mesa Community College men's basketball team (4-4, 3-3 ACCAC) pulled off a 83-81 last second win over the South Mountain Community College Cougars (7-6, 4-2 ACCAC) on Wednesday night at Theo Heap Gymnasium in Mesa.
South Mountain's freshman Terrence Johnson may have led all scorers with 26 points on the night, but the Thunderbirds shot nearly sixty-three percent from the field in the second half and rallied behind five different players who scored in double-digits to secure the win. That included 19 points from freshman Obi Megwa, who buried the game-winning jumper with only two-seconds remaining.
The game opened pretty evenly between the two teams as Mesa's sophomores Mitch Burnett and Kyle Bingham combined for six early points, but Johnson nailed two of his seven three-pointers on the night to help give the Cougars the early lead, 10-6.
South Mountain looked to be taking the momentum in their favor after Johnson connected on another perimeter jumper and sophomore Connor MacDougall made good on a pair of free throws, but a big three-point basket from Megwa cut the Mesa deficit to just three-points, 18-15, with 9:42 remaining in the first half.
A layup from freshman Dominique Martinez and yet another three-pointer from Johnson gave the Cougars their biggest lead of the night at 29-20, but the Thunderbirds put together a 16-9 scoring run to end the first half, including 10 points from Burnett, to only trail South Mountain by two at the break, 38-36.
Coming out of halftime, the Thunderbirds continued to stay hot as sophomore Johnny Guarisco gave Mesa their first lead of the night, but eight combined points from South Mountain's Johnson, Martinez and freshman Jackson Price gave the Cougars a 48-43 lead just over four minutes into the second half.
After a pair of layups and a three-pointer from Mesa's freshmen Brandon Dixon and Isaiah Easaw tied the game at 50-50, the lead changed a total of five different times before Thunderbird freshman Devin Sheehy tied the game once again at 72-72 with only 5:39 remaining in the game.
A crucial perimeter shot by Sheehy and back-to-back layups from Megwa gave Mesa a five point lead with just over two minutes to play, until consecutive buckets from MacDougall and freshman Desmond Johnson cut the Cougar deficit to just one, 79-78.
Mesa's sophomore Nate Jimerson connected on a layup to go up by three points, but the seventh three-pointer on the night for Terrence Johnson tied the game at 81-81 with only eighteen seconds remaining. This back and forth bout seemed destined for extra time, until Megwa gave the Thunderbirds the lead for good on a fifteen-foot jumper that iced the win for Mesa, 83-81.
The Thunderbirds will look to add to their win column this Saturday when they travel to Tucson to take on the Pima College Aztecs at 4:00 p.m. MST in their final ACCAC matchup before the New Year.