MESA, AZ – In their first home game of the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference season, the Mesa Community College men's basketball team (6-0, 2-0 ACCAC) used a strong sophomore showing to defeat the Glendale Community College Gauchos (5-4, 1-1 ACCAC), 85-70, on Wednesday night at Theo Heap Gymnasium in Mesa to keep their perfect season alive.
While Glendale's sophomore Christian Hakilimali and freshman Dominique Bradley combined for 25 Gaucho points and proved to be a tall task, the Thunderbirds received double-digit scoring nights from five separate players to lead their charge.
It may have taken almost two minutes for either team to score, but once Anabir nailed a three-pointer at 18:15 in the first half, the Thunderbirds used that momentum to go on a 7-0 run and take control during the first three minutes of the game.
The Gauchos were finally able to bridge the gap with buckets from sophomore Dominique Martinez and freshman Darnell Cowart, but with less than 10 minutes to play in the first half, Glendale's freshman Avery Smith totaled six-straight points over the next three minutes of play to cut Mesa's lead down to three, 20-17.
The Thunderbirds were able to counter with some solid free throw shooting from Megwa and Wilson-Jones, but with 3:43 remaining until halftime and Mesa leading 30-22, the Gauchos went on a 12-0 scoring run behind the hot shooting of Hakilimali and sophomore Chandler Solis to take a 34-30 lead with one minute remaining in the first half.
While it looked promising that Glendale would take their lead into the half, a perimeter jumper from Wilson-Jones and a three-point play the old fashioned way from Denham gave Mesa the momentum and the lead at the break, 36-34.
Despite Megwa, Anabir and fellow sophomore Edward Hardt combining for Mesa's first 13 points of the second half, Glendale kept it within an eight point game with a little help from Solis, Hakilimali and sophomore Jose Bustamante.
Now with less than nine minutes to play and Glendale only trailing by four, 58-54, Denham buries five of his next six free throws and Vos-Otin connects on back-to-back baskets to give Mesa a 15-point advantage with less than six minutes remaining, 69-54.
Behind the help of Bradley and freshman Jordan McCants, the Gauchos were able to fight back and trim the Mesa lead to only seven points, but that is the closest that Glendale would get for the remainder of the night.
The Thunderbirds were able to connect on eight of their final nine free throws to secure their first home conference win of the season, 85-70.
The Thunderbirds will next be in action this following Wednesday, December 7, when the Tohono O'Odham Community College Jegos head north to Mesa for a scheduled first-tip at 7:30 p.m. MST.