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Monsters Knock Off First Place Cochise

The Eastern Arizona College men’s basketball team pushed its win streak to four Saturday night with a 103-102 win over visiting Cochise College. Freshman guard Kalonji Paschal tipped in the game-winning basket with 0.6 seconds on the clock for the come-from-behind victory in front of a packed Guitteau Gymnasium.

The Monsters trailed 49-45 at the half and saw Apache freshman guard Marcus Williams score three of his game-high 32 points out of the locker room for an eight-point cushion. But EAC battled back behind the play of reigning NJCAA and ACCAC Player of the Week Dazmond Starke, who couldn’t find his rhythm in the first half.

Starke scored 18 of his 25 points and grabbed 11 of his game-high 15 rebounds in the second period. A number of Monster players made the win an overall group effort, however, as EAC found a way to keep making big plays down the stretch.

Freshman guard Brandon Magee scored five points late in the game, including a three-pointer from the left wing with 1:12 remaining to tie the game at 98-98. Cochise’s Victor Reid connected on a lay-up at the other end to take a two-point lead.

In the ensuing possession, Monster freshman Mike James drilled a deep three-pointer from the right wing for a 101-100 lead with 36 seconds showing on the clock. But once again the Apaches would battle back. DeAngelo Jones was fouled by Paschal on a drive to the rim and calmly sank two free throws with 16 seconds to go.

Paschal would make up for his costly foul, however, as he drove the lane and dished to Magee for a three-pointer from the right wing. Magee’s shot bounced off the back rim and Starke was the first to attempt a follow. The ball came off the rim once again and Paschal, one of the smallest players on the floor, was able to tip it home for the win and the EAC student section emptied onto the floor in celebration.

The Monsters had Mario Gill (20), James (18), Paschal (14), and Darryl Finley (10) round out their five double-digit scorers.

Jones finished with 28 points, including 9-for-10 from the free throw line in the losing effort for the Apaches. Sharp-shooter Mike Mayo tallied 12 points in the first half, but was held scoreless in the second.

With the win, EAC (15-9 overall, 9-7 ACCAC) takes a one-game lead over Central Arizona for the fourth and final playoff spot on the Division I side. The Monsters sit one game behind Mesa College for third place.

Next up for the Monsters is a road game at South Mountain College on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Cochise (19-5, 13-3) hosts Glendale.