Ed Petruska-Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — The Central Arizona College women's basketball team is showing signs of a resurgence following a dismal 1-5 December stretch.
The Vaqueras thrashed Phoenix 100-73 on Saturday at the George Young Activity Center for their third consecutive victory. Ayanna Clark scored 31 points and Makayla Pippin had 23 as CAC improved to 10-6 overall and 6-3 in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference.
Playing at home for the first time since Dec. 5, the Vaqueras trailed only once against the Bears (4-13, 2-7). They were up 27-20 after one quarter, 52-36 at halftime and 72-54 entering the final period. Their previous season-best point total was 87.
"You're going to have your ups and downs during the season," CAC coach Denise Cardenas said. "It's about how you handle it. The girls are learning how to compete and learning about themselves."
Central built a 25-point lead for the third time with 5:22 remaining in the third quarter, then scored on just three of its next 20 possessions. Phoenix whittled the margin to 14, but could get no closer.
"It's all about putting minutes of focus together," Cardenas said. "We have to start sustaining those minutes more. We cannot coast when we have a big lead."
Clark came into the game averaging an ACCAC-best 23.3 points per game. She scored nine in both the first and fourth periods and seven in the third. Pippin matched her season-best point total, getting 10 in the second quarter.
Alyssa Marin led the Bears with 15 points. Chloe Worthingon had 14 and Phoenix got 11 apiece from Vanessa Veloz and Tyra Euell-Long.
The Vaqueras made five of their first six field-goal attempts, going ahead to stay at 6-4 on Clark's basket with the game less than two minutes old.
Pippin had seven points during a 9-0 run as CAC extended the lead to 40-25 with 3:52 remaining in the second quarter. Clark's second-chance basket gave the Vaqueras their largest lead of the half at 52-34 with 28 seconds left.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Guadian and Pippin capped a 14-5 surge to begin the third quarter that made it 66-41. Guadian's 3-pointer put the Vaqueras up 71-46, but they didn't score again until Clark made a free throw with 6.3 seconds left in the period.
Central scored just four points in the opening 4 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, allowing Phoenix to pull within 76-62. The Vaqueras finally snapped out of their funk, scoring on five consecutive possessions to take an 88-67 lead with 2:53 to play. Vaughn hit a 3-pointer and Clark converted a three-point play during that 12-5 run.
CAC shot 53 percent from the floor in the first half and 49 percent for the game. They outscored the Bears 25-8 in second-chance points.
The 27-point margin of victory was the Vaqueras' largest of the season.
Phoenix shot 41 percent and outscored the Vaqueras 14-9 in points off turnovers.