COSTA MESA , Calif. -- Dominique Johnson, Marshall Johnson and Caleb Burgess combined for 53 points, nearly out-scoring the opponent by themselves, as Azusa Pacific rolled to an 83-59 Golden State Athletic Conference victory at Vanguard University Saturday night.
Johnson and Johnson each scored a game-high 18 points and Burgess came off the bench to torch the nets, canning 6-of-9 shots, including 5 from the 3-point arc all in the second half, to lead the Cougars to their largest margin of victory on the GSAC road this season.
And as good as the Cougars were at the offensive end, they may have been ever better on defense tonight. They held the GSAC’s hottest player and candidate for conference player of the year honors, senior guard Greg Scott, to just 5 points on 2-for-14 shooting on his home court. Scott entered the game averaging 23.4 points over the past 5 games, but Azusa Pacific limited him to just 1 first half point as it raced out to a 34-24 halftime lead and held him without a field goal for the first 22 minutes of the game.
In addition, Cougar killer Dennis Heenen, who has torched Azusa Pacific throughout his career, managed just 7 points while missing 9-of-12 shots from the field.
The Cougars used a 13-0 run midway through the first half to take control of the game. Senior Mike Danielian came off the bench to score all 5 of his points on the night during the run, hitting back-to-back jumpers, and Marshall Johnson capped the run with 4 consecutive points to put Azusa Pacific up 32-19. In the process, the Lions missed 5 straights shots and committed a pair of turnovers during a 7-minute stretch that gave Azusa Pacific the lead for the rest of the night.
Vanguard could never cut the deficit to single digits in the second half, and Azusa Pacific went on a lightening round, draining 3-point field goals on 5 straight possessions. Burgess nailed 4 of them, his last one giving the Cougars a 58-41 lead with 11 minutes left in the game.
From there the Cougar methodically pulled away, leading by as much as 25 after another Burgess trey with 2 minutes to go.
Junior center Reggie Owens returned to the line-up after missing the past 3 weeks with a knee injury and responded with 9 points and a team-high 8 rebound in 23 minutes off the bench. Junior point guard Mike Caffese chipped in with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.
The Cougars have now won 5 straight over the Lions and have taken 23 of the past 25 meetings. In addition, tonight’s 23-point margin of victory is the Cougars’ largest at Vanguard’s “Pit” since 1994 when they won by 40.
With the victory the Cougars remain in a tie for fourth place in the GSAC. The Cougars improve to 18-9 overall, 11-6 in the GSAC. Vanguard falls to 5-18 overall, 4-13 in the GSAC.