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Home Is Where The Heart Aches

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Photo by Ken Williams
Brandon Dunson was one of two Cougars in double figures, scoring 11 points on five-of-10 shooting.

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February 14, 2012
Joe Reinsch
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AZUSA, Calif. -- For most of the year, Azusa Pacific was practically unbeatable at home, but the Cougars' worst overall shooting night of the season sent them crashing to a 72-52 loss to Point Loma Nazarene Tuesday night at the Felix Event Center.

The Cougars, 16-1 at home entering the game and shooting 50 percent in home games, took six-and-a-half minutes to make their first field goal and finished the game hitting 32 percent (20-of-62) from the field, including a frigid 18 percent (three-for-17) clip from three-point range. Even free throws had trouble finding the net, with Azusa Pacific barely making 50 percent (9-of-17) from the charity stripe.

Azusa Pacific has shot worse from the field in just one other game all year, shooting a tenth of a percentage point lower than Tuesday night's .323 effort with a .322 performance in a 20-point loss at Fresno Pacific, but in that contest the Cougars hit seven-of-20 three-pointers and hit 60 percent from the free throw line.

Point Loma encountered no such struggles, hitting 52 percent (25-of-48) of their shots to snap the Cougars' 11-game home winning streak while sending Azusa Pacific to back-to-back losses for the first time this season. In addition, the Sea Lions will be the only GSAC team to sweep Azusa Pacific this year, as the Cougars beat each of their final three conference opponents in the first round of GSAC play. Five Point Loma Nazarene players reach double figures, led by Hayden Lescault's game-high 15-point effort.

Not one Cougar shot over 50 percent, and Tyler Monroe and Brandon Dunson were Azusa Pacific's only double-digit scorers. Monroe tallied 12 points with a team-high eight rebounds, while Dunson finished with 11 points and six boards. The Cougars, who hadn't been out-rebounded in 11 consecutive games before Saturday's loss at Concordia, lost the battle on the boards for the second straight game, surrendering a 40-36 rebounding margin to Point Loma.

The Cougars' slow start allowed Point Loma Nazarene to take an 8-3 lead with 12:35 to play in the first half, but Monroe scored every point in an 8-2 run that briefly gave Azusa Pacific its only lead, 11-10, with 9:11 remaining in the half. However, the Cougars went cold again, going scoreless for another six minutes as Point Loma reeled off 12 straight points to take a 22-11 lead with four minutes to play in the half.

A Robert Sandoval three-pointer late in the half helped keep Azusa Pacific within striking distance, trailing by seven at halftime, 28-21. A Haynes trey just over a minute into the second half trimmed the margin to four points, 30-26, but Point Loma scored eight in a row to start an 18-4 run over a seven-minute stretch to put the game out of reach. The Cougars never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way.

With the loss, Azusa Pacific drops to 20-7 overall, 9-6 GSAC, and the Cougars fall into a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference standings with Biola and The Master's. Point Loma Nazarene jumps into a tie for second with Westmont, which lost at The Master's for its second straight loss Tuesday night, while Concordia seized sole possession of the conference lead with an 86-68 win over Vanguard Tuesday night.

The Cougars return to action for back-to-back games on the road, visiting San Diego Christian and The Master's before wrapping up the regular season at home against Westmont.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS (filmed & edited by Rob Small)