Ed Petruska-Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — Having a comfortable cushion was a welcome development for the Central Arizona College men's basketball team in Saturday's game against Phoenix.
Ahead by 17 points at halftime, the Vaqueros led by as many as 24 before settling for a satisfying 101-83 victory at the George Young Activity Center.
"I think the guys are beginning to realize that they can be successful when they work as a team as opposed to trying to do it as individuals," CAC coach Tramaine Aaron said. "We had some lapses, but we were able to recover better than we have in the past."
Richard Polanco (15 points), Andrew Leonard (14) and Malachi Faison (10) carried the offensive load in the first half for CAC, which raised its record to 6-11 overall and 4-5 in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference. JC Canahuate, the ACCAC Division I player of the week for Dec. 31-Jan. 5, provided 14 second-half points.
"I was impressed with our overall energy and that we got contributions we got from everybody," Aaron said. "I hope that the effort will carry over and that we can build some consistency."
Leonard had five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points, Faison scored 18 and Canahaute had 16 for the Vaqueros, who surpassed 100 for the second time this season. Polanco spent much of the second half on the bench due to foul trouble and was held scoreless in the final 20 minutes.
Also reaching double figures for CAC were Meekness Payne with 11 points and Domineque Johnson with 10.
Darius Goudeau led Phoenix (6-11, 1-8 conference) with 23 points, followed by Tre Mitchell with 18, Kenny Sutton with 16 and Demetrius Campbell with 10.
The Vaqueros, who were coming off Wednesday's 97-94 loss at Glendale, took a 55-38 halftime lead against the Bears. The margin grew to 24 points at 75-51 with 14:58 to play, with Canahaute hitting a pair of 3-pointers and scoring 10 of Central's first 20 points of the second half.
Faison's six consecutive points gave CAC an 85-61 lead with 11:12 remaining, but the Vaqueros went just 6 for 15 from the field with eight turnovers on their final 24 possessions.
The Bears trimmed the deficit to 14 points at 97-83 on Habib Arogundade's 3-pointer with 1:37 left. But they also had their troubles down the stretch, going 2 for 8 from the floor with five turnovers on their last 14 possessions.