Athletic Event

NJCAA Division II National Tournament

Chiefs fall behind from the start, can't catch high-scoring Aztecs in opening game of the NJCAA Division II National Championship Tournament

Chiefs fall behind from the start, can't catch high-scoring Aztecs in opening game of the NJCAA Division II National Championship Tournament

Conference: No

Opponent: #8 Pima (AZ) Community College (21-11)
84 - 93 (L)

It was a tall order, but that was nothing new. Waubonsee Community College couldn't come up with an answer, though, for Pima's Deion James. The athletic 6-foot-9 forward scored a game-high 31 points Tuesday to lead the Arizona school to a 93-84 victory in the opening game of the NJCAA Division II National Tournament. "All teams seem to have a size advantage on us," Waubonsee coach Dave Heiss said. For much of the game, Heiss' front line gave up 2-3 inches per player, but the Chiefs didn't fare too badly on the boards. They were only outrebounded 41-36 and won the sloppy game's turnover battle 28-24.

Pima (22-11) prevailed at the free-throw line with a 35-18 edge, including a 13-for-13 effort from James, headed to Washington State University next season. The Aztecs shot 24-for-25 in the second half. The Aztecs shot 85.4 percent (35-for-41) at the line to 66.7 percent (18-for-27) for the Chiefs. "Actually, in the first half, we shot more free throws (21-16) than they did," Heiss said. "We were able to get to the rim off dribble penetration. We were able to get dump downs to the kids inside. We just didn't finish plays at the rim. We missed seven free throws in the first half, gave up several second-chance points and had silly turnovers.”

It's why Heiss was disappointed to be trailing 40-30 at halftime. "We had No. 15 (James) with two early fouls and we didn't take advantage of it," he said. Waubonsee (25-9) drops into the consolation bracket of the 16-team double-elimination event at Danville. The Chiefs play at 3 p.m. Wednesday against Southern Maryland, which fell 94-69 to top-seeded Southwestern.

Pima had its biggest lead of the game at 54-36 on a 3-pointer from Emilio Acedo with 16:03 left in the second half. Acedo ended up with 14 points. Waubonsee's Alec Goetz, who had 17 points, cut the deficit to 61-52 with 9:37 left. A pair of free throws by James boosted that back to 17 with 5:53 left. "Whenever it felt like we'd get a little momentum, we'd miss a shot or turn it over and they'd get another 5-0 run," Heiss said.

The Chiefs never led in the game. A 3-pointer from Deon Ward cut the deficit to 88-81 with 50 seconds left, but Pima made 7-for-8 at the free-throw line in the final 1:03 to hold off Waubonsee. "They went to a zone in the second half because they couldn't guard us," Heiss said. "I was disappointed we didn't attack the rim or the gaps more and settled for jump shots."

Germaine Roebuck led Waubonsee with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Tyrone Carey, who averages a team-high 20.4 points, had just nine before fouling out with 4:04 remaining. Reserves Ward and Dominick Martin added 15 and 14 points, respectively. Ward also had seven assists.