TUCSON — The Cochise College Apaches won their 11th straight game after knocking off the Pima College Aztecs 87-78 Wednesday in a battle of two National Junior College Athletic Association Top 25 basketball teams.

The win keeps Cochise on top of the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference standings at the midway point of the season with a perfect 10-0 conference record and a 19-1 mark overall.

The Apaches entered the game ranked 25th in the DI NJCAA national poll while Pima was ranked ninth in the DII national rankings. The DI poll is for schools that provide student housing while DII is for those that do not.

According to Apaches coach Jerry Carrillo, Pima was well prepared for Cochise from the outset, jumping to an early 19-5 lead thanks to some excellent perimeter shooting.

The Apaches continued to battle and cut Pima’s lead to 44-40 at the half.

Cochise used a strong defensive effort in the second half, outscoring Pima 47-34.

In his report on the game, Raymond Suarez, Pima sports information director, said the contest featured nine ties and six lead changes.

“The Aztecs held on to a 70-66 lead and called a timeout with 7:10 left, but the Apaches closed out the game on a 21-8 run,” Suarez reported. “Cochise took its biggest lead of the game at 84-74, but sophomore Daniel Moody (Sahuarita Walden Grove High) hit a 3-pointer to bring it back to a single-digit deficit, and Pima called time out with 1:43 left.”

Moody scored a game-high 32 points on 11-for-18 shooting for Pima and was 7-for-13 from 3-point range. He also had 10 rebounds.

Cochise was led by returning ACCAC Player of Year Stephen “Tank” Byard, who had 25 points and nine rebounds.

Freshman big man Oscar Cluff continued his effectiveness with 14 points and nine rebounds. Newcomer Jay Rodgers chipped in 16 points while backup point guard Roman Garcia added 11 points and, according to Carrillo, “really sparked the Apaches off the bench.”

Sophomore guard Jalun Trent had another typical night with seven points, seven assists and 11 rebounds while playing excellent defense, Carrillo said.

“Our guys really did not understand initially how prepared and how hard Pima was going to play at the outset,” Carrillo said. “I was very proud of how our guys stuck together and rallied around each other for 40 minutes versus a very well-coached team in Pima. Our defensive effort in the second half was the difference in the game.”

“Coach basically told us to defend with much better effort during our halftime break in the locker room,” Byard said. “We were able to respond, and as a team were able to get the ball inside and score at the rim.”

Cochise is off this weekend and begins the second half of its season next week with home games against Scottsdale Community College on Wednesday and Mesa Community College on Saturday. Tipoff for both games is 7:30 p.m.

There is no admission charge to any of the Apaches’ home games.


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