AZUSA, Calif. – Nick Aldridge scored 20 of his game-high 30 points in the second half and Winston Robinson added 20 points as Mountain State University proved its billing as the NAIA’s No. 1-ranked team with a 103-70 thumping of Azusa Pacific Friday evening in the Felix Event Center.
MSU shot a blistering 64-percent (25-for-39) in the second half and used a 17-5 run in the first 5 minutes of the frame to blow open the game, turning a 41-35 halftime lead into a comfortable 58-40 advantage following an Aldridge 3-point bomb, 1 of 9 that the Cougars from West Virginia drained on the night.
An undersized Azusa Pacific squad, which was playing without its 2 biggest men – starting center Reggie Owens and 6-foot-8 Mason Maynard – played with a high level of energy but could not match Mountain State’s torrid shooting pace nor control play around the basket. The Cougars were out-rebounded 44-31, and MSU tallied more than half of its points (54 to be exact), in the paint. In addition, Azusa Pacific missed 25 shots from the 3-point line and converted just 40-percent of its shots.
Despite a career-high 18 points from junior forward Caleb Burgess, who canned 4 three-pointers in the process, Azusa Pacific steadily fell further behind Mountain State following its second-half opening blitz. MSU fashioned another mini-run of 16-6 in less than 4 minutes to roll out to a commanding 77-49 lead following a dunk by former Point Loma Nazarene standout Brian Ormon midway through the half. When Robinson dropped in a fast-break lay-up 70 seconds later, Mountain State had its first 30-point lead at 81-51 with 9 minutes left in the game.
Following the game, Mountain State head coach Bob Bolin admitted his team had just played its finest ball to date through 14 games of the season. Noone from Azusa Pacific was about to debate the assessment.
Sophomore Marshall Johnson added 14 points and a team-high 8 rebounds for Azusa Pacific.
Junior David Stafford, who started in place of Owens for just the second start in his near 80-game career at Azusa Pacific, responded with 6 points and 4 rebounds. His long jumper at the buzzer pulled Azusa Pacific to within 6 at halftime at 41-35.
The 103 points scored by Mountain State are the most ever tallied against an Azusa Pacific team in the 9-year history of the Felix Event Center.
While Mountain State improves to 14-0, Azusa Pacific falls to 5-4 heading into Saturday’s nonconference game at the University of Redlands. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. in Currier Gym, where the Cougars will be making their first appearance in 17 years.