The EAC womens’ basketball team did Friday night what they have done all season, defended their home court with a 56-47 win over Arizona Western.
The Gila Monsters did a little bit more than that, though, they won the Region I Championship and a trip to Lubbock, Texas.
While Lubbock maybe a nice place to visit and will remind the Monsters of their home in Thatcher, as both Thatcher and Lubbock are both surrounded by cotton fields, the women from EAC are going to Lubbock to compete in the NJCAA National Tournament. The tourney is set for April 19-24.
The Gila Monsters may have felt a little extra love on Friday night, as the bleachers in Guitteau Gymnasium held what may have been the largest crowd of this COVID-restricted season. Members of the EAC volleyball team and baseball team were on hand as well.
The baseballers, who have seen no action since March 23 because five games have been cancelled or postponed, had lots of pent up energy and were not reluctant to show their support in both numbers and volume.
The Monsters started fast with a trifecta of triples; Catarina Ferreira was first with three points shot, followed by a pair of threes by Susi Namoa. EAC was up 9-2 before Arizona Western knew what hit them.
The Lady Matadors battled back and were able to tie the score at 11 each with 2:56 left in the first period. Each team added two more to finish quarter number one, tied at 13.
Western took their first lead of the night two minutes into the second period, 16-15.
At this point the physicality of the game seemed to rachet up. Eastern started to find themselves at the free throw line and from there they were able to get on top 28-25. Western would pick two points late to finish the first half. 28-27.
Eastern had shown some full court pressure at the 4:00 minute mark of the second quarter, and would return the "press" early in the second half. Late in the third quarter it seemed to be taking a toll on the Lady Matadors. EAC held a 42-37 advantage going into the final period.
The constant harassment by the Monsters’ defense enabled EAC to build a 53-39 lead by the three-minute mark of the final stanza. The Lady Matadors struggled back to 53-47, with half a minute to go.
In an effort to slow the game down, and in hopes of trading ones for twos, Western was forced to start fouling. Foul, Foul, Foul by the fourth foul Mary Workman found herself at the free throw line, 54-47. Wanting to draw things out a little longer, Western called a time-out. The only problem was they were out of time-outs. The technical foul sent Workman back to the line one more attempt, which she sank and with it sank The Lady Matadors' hopes for a win on the Eastern court.
The Monsters are perfect at home, 16-0.