The Pima Community College women's basketball team's season came to an end on Saturday in the NJCAA Region I, Division II Finals.
The No. 2 seeded Aztecs fell at No. 1 Mesa Community College 76-61. This was the second straight year the Aztecs lost at Mesa and ninth time in 10 years the Aztecs and Thunderbirds have met in the Region I, Division II Finals.
The Aztecs took a 5-4 lead nearly four minutes into the first quarter but were held scoreless for the next five minutes as Mesa went on a 10-0 run. The Aztecs trailed 18-10 after the quarter.
Freshman Jacqulynn Nakai (Coconino HS) scored her first points of the game with 29 seconds left in the second quarter to cut Mesa's lead to 34-26. The Aztecs fell behind 36-26 at halftime. Nakai had three points on 1 for 6 shooting and sophomore Izzy Spruit (Mesquite HS) was scoreless after going 0 for 5 from the field.
Nakai cut Pima's deficit to single digits to 41-32 nearly three minutes into the third quarter but the Thunderbirds went on a 13-0 run in the next two minutes to make it 54-32.
In the fourth quarter, the Aztecs made one last effort to come back as they got as close as 15 points at 68-53 with 3:55 left but the Thunderbirds scored the next five points to take back a 20-point lead at 73-53.
Nakai scored a team-high 14 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Aubre Fortner had a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds as she went 4 for 7 from the field. Freshman Shauna Bribiescas (Dobson HS) was the other Aztec player in double figures as she scored 11 points. Sophomore Christine Ortega (Flowing Wells HS) had six points and 10 rebounds. Spruit finished with four points and was 0 for 9 from three-point range.
For the second straight year, the Aztecs finished with 23 wins overall (23-9) and a 16-6 record in ACCAC conference play. They've won 20 games or more seven of the last 10 years.
The Aztecs have eight freshman on the team which includes Nakai, the ACCAC Division II Player of the Year.
PCC 10 16 12 23 61
MCC 18 18 23 17 76