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Eastern Outlasts NMJC for Overtime Victory

After spotting visiting New Mexico Junior College a 37-22 halftime cushion, the Lady Gila Monsters found a way to force overtime and win their only game in the Eastern Arizona Classic, 75-70. Sophomore guard Shakita Cox led the way with a game-high 22 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the floor and a near perfect 12-for-13 from the free throw line.

In EAC’s third and final non-conference tune up before opening ACCAC play, it took 46 percent shooting from the floor in the second half to force an extra period. Two technical fouls charged to the T-birds, one on head coach Drew Sanders in the first half, and one on sophomore point guard Leila Jdily-Ezzed in overtime, proved costly.

With the game tied 66-66 and 38 seconds remaining, EAC’s defense stood tall and forced a shot clock violation with 2.7 seconds remaining. Sophomore point guard Shaunice Robinson had her half-court shot glance off the rim as the buzzer sounded and both teams, laden with foul trouble, were headed for five more minutes of play.

The Lady Gila Monsters outscored New Mexico JC 9-4 in the final period, seven coming from the charity stripe and four as a result of one play. With the game tied 70-70 and less than a minute remaining, Robinson caught the ball in the back court and went to split two defenders with her dribble. She fell to the floor as the ball squirted away and a foul was called, awarding her two free throws. Jdily-Ezzed was whistled for a technical foul when she reacted to the call by slamming the ball into the floor. The technical foul gave EAC two additional free throws. Robinson sank all four free throws to put the Lady Gila Monsters ahead 74-70 and put the game out of reach.

Robinson finished with 19 points, five assists and two steals while Cox also added four steals of her own in a strong defensive performance. EAC out-rebounded the T-birds 42-34, including 13 offensive rebounds.

Kassandra Harris paced New Mexico JC with a team-high 19 points.

The Lady Gila Monsters open league play on the road at Pima CC for a 5:30 pm tip-off.