AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific has finalized its 2013-14 men’s basketball schedule and will tip off its second season in the Pacific West Conference while renewing a pair of Felix Event Center traditions with the return of the Cougar Classic and a home game against its traditional basketball rival, Biola University.
Azusa Pacific will begin the 20-game conference portion of its schedule with the program’s first-ever PacWest road trip into the Bay Area, visiting Dominican and Notre Dame de Namur. The conference schedule features matchups against each of the 13 PacWest schools, as well as a week-long trip to Hawai`i for the second straight year.
“We learned last year that there are no shortcuts to having consistent success in Division II,” head coach Justin Leslie said. “I look forward to seeing how our players address that challenge as they enter the upcoming season with a year of PacWest experience under their belt, and I am excited to see how a more balanced conference schedule will impact the PacWest standings throughout the year.”
The Cougars open the season by hosting the 25th Cougar Classic, which returns to the slate after a two-year hiatus. Along with Azusa Pacific, the tournament includes three other NCAA Division II programs from the West region: Western Oregon, Cal State Dominguez Hills, and Cal Poly Pomona, which finished last season ranked fifth in the final NCAA Division II rankings.
A week later, Azusa Pacific hosts Biola for the 103rd meeting between the two programs in a pre-Thanksgiving clash on Saturday, November 23. After recording a win in La Mirada last year in a rare non-conference meeting between the former conference rivals, the Cougars now lead the all-time series 55-47.
Azusa Pacific will play a home-and-away series against defending PacWest champion Dixie State in a matter of 10 days, visiting the Red Storm in St. George, Utah, on Saturday, January 11, before hosting the rematch on Monday, January 20 in the Felix Event Center, the site where Dixie State won last year’s inaugural PacWest Conference Tournament.
The Cougars’ budding rivalry with California Baptist transitioned into the PacWest last year, where the teams successfully defended their respective home courts to split the regular-season series. Five days after knocking off the Lancers in the final week of the regular season, the Cougars ended CBU’s season with another home victory over the Lancers in the first round of the National Christian College Athletic Association regional playoffs. The Cougars host this year’s series opener on a Friday night (January 24) before paying a visit to Riverside on Saturday, February 8.
In between the two meetings with California Baptist, Azusa Pacific visits the island of O‘ahu to face BYU-Hawaii, Hawai`i Pacific, and Chaminade for three games in a five-day stretch from January 30 to February 3.