SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- For the second straight day, Azusa Pacific built a commanding first-half lead en route to an exhibition-game victory, defeating the NAIA’s No. 8-ranked Montana Western, 84-73, Saturday night at Behnken Field House on the Westminster College campus in Salt Lake City.
Junior guard Troy Leaf drilled a half-dozen three-pointers, and he finished with a game-high 28 points along with seven rebounds. Senior forward Bertram Hall notched a double-double, scoring 11 points to go with his game-high 14 rebounds, and sophomore forward Sharif Watson was one rebound away from registering a double-double of his own with a 16-point, nine-rebound effort. Brown added five points without missing a shot, and LyDell Cardwell added 12 points while making four-of-six shots from the field.
“We had a game plan today to pound the ball inside, and I’m really proud of them for such a great weekend,” Cougar head coach Justin Leslie said. “This was a great weekend for our depth, and it gave us a great opportunity to get some of our guys onto the floor to feel things out.”
Less than 24 hours after leading by as many as 20 points in the first half, the Cougars used a 16-3 run to take a 28-11 lead over the Bulldogs. Montana Western never got closer than four points the rest of the game, the last time occurring with 9:15 left in the game when a Bulldogs three-pointer cut the advantage to 65-61, but a Miller Brown three-pointer on the very next possession gave the Cougars some breathing room down the stretch.
Azusa Pacific has completed the exhibition games on the 2013-14 schedule, and the Cougars’ official season opener is a Friday, Nov. 15 contest against Cal State Dominguez Hills, which is one of four games hosted by Azusa Pacific this year as part of the Cougar Classic tournament.