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Cougars Caught in a Vice Grip

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December 1, 2007
Gary Pine
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IRVINE, Calif. – The Cougars should have figured it wasn’t going to be their night.

A seldom-used Concordia reserve who entered the game with just one 3-pointer and only 21 points scored on the season, canned 3 treys and tallied 14 points – all in the first half alone. And when he wasn’t torching the nets in a rare show of perimeter promise, Azusa Pacific was scoring baskets for Concordia when a pair of Cougars collided in air on a rebound and pushed the ball back into the bucket for the Eagles.

But in truth, none of that is what did in the Cougars. Rather it was a relentless pressure defense that led the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Concordia University to a convincing 81-56 Golden State Athletic Conference over Azusa Pacific Saturday evening.

Concordia’s in-your-face defense frustrated Azusa Pacific from the opening tip, barring Cougar guards from establishing an offensive scheme, let alone a rhythm for night. Azusa Pacific turned the ball over on its first 3 possessions, establishing a tone for the night, and then began to wilt under the constant defensive pressure, particularly from Eagle point guard Terrence Worthy. Down by only 4 at 21-17, the Cougars missed 6 of their next 7 shots and committed 4 more turnovers. In turn, Concordia feasted, opening a 34-20 lead following a pair of Rafael DaSilva free throws and pushing its advantage to a whopping 17 points at 42-25 by halftime.

Azusa Pacific missed 13 of its first 22 shots while Concordia drained 17 of its first 30, including 5 three-pointers to account for the substantial halftime cushion.

With no outlet of relief against Concordia’s swarming defense, Azusa Pacific continued to struggle at the offensive end. Worthy and his back-up Keith Lawrence never let Azusa Pacific get any closer than within 14 in the second half, and Concordia managed a 20-point advantage over the final 8 minutes of the game.

Lawrence tallied a game-high 15 points, including 13 in the second half, to lead 5 different Eagles in double-digit scoring. Chris Minardo added 14 points, all in just 12 minutes of play in the first half. At one point early in the game he scored 8 straight points for the Eagles, hitting consecutive treys from the top of the key to twice dash Cougar hopes of taking a lead, something Azusa Pacific never achieved for the contest.

Though Worthy had just 5 points, he picked Cougar pockets 4 times and spearheaded an Eagle defense that induced 20 Azusa Pacific turnovers, 12 of which came off Concordia steals.

Seniors Todd Martin and Davon Roberts led Azusa Pacific with 11 points each.

With the win, Concordia improves to 6-1 overall, 2-1 in the GSAC, while Azusa Pacific falls to 5-4 overall, 1-2 in the GSAC.