Less than a week ago the feeling that Desert Vista's girls basketball team had separated itself from the Division I pack was becoming more prevalent. That happens when the front runner is 19-0 and noone has come closer than 11 points of beating them.
After Monday afternoon's narrow escape vs. Mountain Pointe and Friday night's heavyweight bout against host Mesquite, that talk is subsiding a bit.
Cecily Wilson sank two free throws with 4.1 seconds left to cap a 23-point effort, snap a tie and give Mesquite a 46-44 triumph over Desert Vista in battle of top three teams(Desert Vista No. 1 and Mesquite No. 3) in the D-I power rankings.
The game's final 43 seconds were wild. Mesquite (17-4 overall, 11-1 power-ranking games) led 44-41 after a 7-0 run allowed it to erase its largest deficit of the night (41-37). With 40 seconds to go Desert Vista (19-1, 11-1 prg) set up to get three-point threat Emily Wolph (team-high 16 points) a good look. Wolph used a pick from post Kristine Anigwe near the top of the key and buried a 3 to tie the game at 44 with 30 seconds left.
Desert Vista got a steal from Jahnae Martin with 16 seconds and called time. Mesquite opted to foul a couple times to prevent drives and shots with fouls to give. Mesquite committed a third foul in eight seconds, but this one put Desert Vista in the bonus with 8 seconds to go. Desert Vista's Sabrina Haines missed the front end of a one-and-one and Mesquite gained possession.
Inbounding after a time out with 5.9 seconds left, Haines was called for a reaching foul in back court. It sent Wilson to the line in the bonus and the senior guard bound for Long Beach State sank both for the margin of victory. Guard Izzy Spruit helped out offensively for Mesquite as the three-point specialist came through with three 3s -- all in the second half. The last trey was part of the 7-0 run that put Mesquite back on top late in the final period.
"We persevered," Mesquite coach Candice Gonzales said. ..."The girls knew what they needed to do. Against Basha (on Tuesday), we had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and didn't hold it. They know they have to play all the way through no matter who we play."
Desert Vista got a last shot after Wilson's tie-breaking free throws, but it wasn't what Desert Vista coach Jontar Coleman wanted. Post Kristine Anigwe got possession on the inbounds pass and fired a half-court shot earlier than needed that hit the back board and bounded away as time expired. Anigwe, the team's second-leading scorer behind Wolph, finished with 11 points. She did most of her damage in the middle quarters and did not score in the fourth period.
"We wanted to get it to Emily in the corner," Coleman said. "I think she could have dribbled closer or passed it once and we could have had a better shot. .. We got outplayed. Mesquite played a real good game. We have to refocus now and be ready to play."
Wilson came up big in the final quarter for her team. She scored eight points in the final period and made 9 of 16 shots, including three 3s on the night. Mesquite led 14-6 early in the second period, but from that point on the game became a see-saw battle. Mesquite led 18-17 at halftime and 30-29 after three periods.
Desert Vista struggled shooting in the first half, making 1 of 14 shots in the first period and 2 of 24 at the 4:40 mark of the second period. They had 12 more shots in the first half thanks to a rebounding edge and were fortunate with 6 of 34 shooting to be nearly even at intermission.
Mesquite now has wins over Desert Vista and Dobson (1-2 on Friday in the power rankings) in the last two weeks. The Lady Wildcats have games with D-II title contender Seton Catholic and Mountain Pointe next week.