SIGNAL PEAK — A coronavirus-abbreviated season came to an abrupt and unexpected end for the Central Arizona College women’s basketball team Tuesday night.
The Vaqueras lost 65-64 to Arizona Western at the George Young Activity Center in the semifinals of the Region 1 tournament. The Matadors went ahead to stay at 63-62 on a 3-pointer by Mizah Gilberto with 27 seconds remaining.
Second-seeded Central (7-4) appeared to be in command after outscoring third-seeded Western 25-9 to begin the third quarter for a 56-43 lead. But the Matadors (6-8) closed the third with a 6-0 run and outscored the Vaqueras 16-8 in the final period.
CAC was held to two field goals in the fourth quarter.
The score was tied 16-16 after one period. Western led 34-31 at halftime.
The Vaqueras went 3-0 against the Matadors during the regular season, winning 60-50 in Yuma on Feb. 16, 89-70 at CAC on Feb. 25 and 60-45 at home on March 6. Western was playing for the first time since defeating Cochise on March 10.
Denali Hughes, the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference player of the year, led the Vaqueras with 32 points.
Faith Silva scored 14 of her team-high 18 points in the first half for the Matadors. Gilberto had 15 and Teresa DaSilva scored 11. Western made 25 of 49 field goal attempts (51 percent), including 6 of 15 3-pointers.
The Matadors play at Eastern Arizona (15-2) in Friday’s Region 1 title game, with the winner advancing to the NJCAA Tournament. The top-seeded Gila Monsters cruised to an 87-43 victory over fourth-seeded Cochise (0-11) in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
CAC’s Senya Rabouin joined Denali Hughes on the all-ACCAC first team. The Vaqueras’ Seairra Hughes was named to the all-conference second team.