AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific put the pedal to the metal, and the University of Calgary gave chase as best it could for as long as it could, but in the end the Cougars ran away with a 90-67 nonconference victory Tuesday evening in the Felix Event Center.
Led by center Reggie Owens and forward Caleb Burgess, the Cougars went on a 13-1 run to open the second half and turned a 5-point, 42-37 halftime lead into a gaping 55-38 cushion. They never yielded the double-digit advantage the rest of the night.
The Cougars overwhelmed the Dinos at both ends of the court, forcing 4 turnovers and 4 missed shots in the first 5 minutes of the half, and sprinting down court for easy baskets. Burgess accounted for 9 of the 13 points with a pair of field goals, including the Cougars’ first trey of the game at the 17:21 mark of the second half, while assisting on a pair of Owens’ lay-ups.
Owens finished with a team-high 20 points for his third straight 20-point game, and Burgess tallied 16.
“Calgary wanted to force pace; we knew that coming into the game,” said Azusa Pacirfic Head Coach Justin Leslie. “They want the score to be in the 80s and 90s because that’s when they usually win. For us, it was a matter of getting turnovers, which we did in the second half.”
For the opening 20 minutes of play, Calgary matched the Cougars’ energy on every shot, rebound and steal, resulting in a somewhat chaotic and hectic pace to the game. The 2 teams combined for 24 first-half turnovers but shot 50-percent from the floor.
“We had to get them to play sloppy and loose,” said Leslie. “Unfortunately, we were the sloppy and loose ones in the first half.”
Andrew McGuinness drained a trio of long treys, and 6-foot-9 Tyler Fidler flowed freely in the Dinos’ spread offense to keep Calgary within striking distance through halftime. Meanwhile Cougar junior Marshall Johnson continued his re-emergence and took advantage of Calgary’s zone defense, consistently splitting it with dribble-drives and slashes to the basket, resulting in a season-high 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting. He had 13 in the first half alone.
“My shot hasn’t been falling lately, but getting to the hoop and finishing is always going to be there for me,” said Johnson. “Most teams are closing out on me pretty hard but that is giving me lanes and I’m a pretty good driver. I can jump higher than most of my defenders so getting to the basket and elevating is certainly to my advantage.”
“Marshall is letting the game develop and then attacking,” said Leslie. He’s a good finisher, among the best in the GSAC. He still has so much improvement he can make, but you look at his past 4 games and you can see that he is developing, which is nice heading back into GSAC play next week.”
The frantic pace eventually got to a tiring set of Dinos, and Azusa Pacific developed enough self-control to cut down its turnovers and out-score Calgary by 18 in the second half.
A Burgess 3-pointer capped a 12-4 Azusa Pacific run that gave the Cougars their first 20-point lead at 80-61 with 5 minutes left in the game.
Azusa Pacific induced a season-high 28 turnovers, which led to 35 points, and 14 of Calgary’s giveaways came by way of steal. Junior guard Dallas Rutherford paved the way with a season-high 5 steals to round a solid game off the bench in which he also contributed 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists without a turnover in 22 minutes of play.
Fidler led Calgary with game-highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds. McGuinness was the only other Dino in double digits in scoring with 11 points, all of which came in the first half.
Azusa Pacific has now won 6 in a row to move to 11-2 on the season and will close out the nonconference portion of its regular-season schedule with another Canadian foe, hosting University of Fraser Valley, Thursday (Dec. 30) at 7:30 p.m.