AZUSA, Calif. -- A half-second separated the teams the first time they met, and it took two overtimes to crown a winner in Saturday’s matchup between Azusa Pacific and Point Loma before the Cougars’ junior backcourt duo of Troy Leaf and Robert Sandoval guided their team to a season sweep of the Sea Lions with an 87-84 double-overtime victory Saturday afternoon at the Felix Event Center.
Leaf scored a game-high 25 points, including three game-tying free throws in the closing seconds of the first overtime that forced a second extra period. He also scored on the opening possession of the second overtime, and Azusa Pacific led the rest of the way to win its fourth straight game before visiting the Bay Area next weekend to close out the regular season.
The Sea Lions went cold to start the second overtime, making just a single free throw until the final 20 seconds of the second overtime. The Sea Lions missed four shots and committed a turnover during that stretch, while the Cougars hit seven-of-eight free throws in the period to close out the scoring. Judd Welfringer’s three-pointer with 19 seconds left cut the deficit to two points, 84-82, and Hayden Lescault answered another pair of free throws with a coast-to-coast layup with 2.7 seconds remaining.
“This game reminded me a lot of the game we won in overtime at Chaminade, because we didn’t fold in overtime after not quite finishing regulation the way we wanted,” Azusa Pacific head coach Justin Leslie said. “I just asked these guys to compete and fight to win, and that’s exactly what they did. They really showed a great deal of toughness today, and I was very proud of their effort.”
Point Loma led by six with just over a minute left in the first overtime when AJ Ussery tipped in a Malcolm Collins miss to push the Sea Lions in front, 75-69, with 1:10 to play. Sandoval answered with a pair of free throws, and he scored again with 33 seconds left to cut the lead to 75-73. After Welfringer made one-of-two free throws, sophomore forward Sharif Watson put back a missed three to make it a one-point game, 76-75. Welfringer knocked down a pair of free throws to push the margin back to three with 10 seconds left, but Leaf was fouled on the potentially game-tying three-point attempt, and he knocked down all three to send the game to another overtime.
Sandoval’s 21 points represented a season-high, and it was just the second time this season both he and Leaf both scored at least 20 points, with the first occurrence in the PacWest opener at Dominican. They each scored 19 points after halftime and combined for just one turnover after the opening 20 minutes.
“Those two have really developed a good chemistry on the floor, and the way they play has become a pretty good indicator whether we win or lose games,” Leslie said. “These last two weeks they’ve played as well as they have all season, and we’ve been able to string some wins together because of it.”
Azusa Pacific edged Point Loma in the rebounding battle, 41-37, which led to a 26-16 scoring margin in second chance points. In regulation, the Cougars shot 40 percent (eight-for-20) on both three-pointers and free throws (six-for-15), but in overtime they were 13-of-15 (87 percent) from the free throw line while missing all four three-point attempts.
Senior forward Tyler Monroe scored nine points with three blocks off the bench, while fellow senior Bertram Hall tallied six points, six rebounds, and a block. Watson was the Cougars’ rebounding leader with eight, and he added eight points and two blocks.
Azusa Pacific erased all of an early 13-2 deficit by halftime, taking a 31-30 lead into the break. However, Point Loma hit 61 percent (14-of-23) from the field in the second half and erased an eight-point deficit with five minutes to play to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Marek Klassen, who had 12 points in the first half and hit a three-pointer on the opening possession of the second half, knocked down another three with 4:17 left to begin cutting into an eight-point Cougar lead. Welfringer converted a three-point play that cut the lead to 63-60 with 3:38 left, and Ussery’s layup with 2:04 remaining in regulation completed a 10-2 run that tied the game at 64-64. Sandoval and Lescault traded baskets in the final minute to send the game to overtime tied at 66-66.
Lescault was Point Loma’s leading scorer, tallying 23 points while Klassen was held scoreless after his last three in regulation to finish with 18 points. Welfringer scored 12, and Ussery registered an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double.
With the win, Azusa Pacific’s fourth in a row to complete a perfect 4-0 homestand, Azusa Pacific improves to 15-9 overall and 11-7 in the Pacific West Conference. Point Loma has now lost back-to-back games after its own four-game winning streak, dropping the Sea Lions to 15-10 overall, 10-9 PacWest. The Cougars are back in action on Thursday, Feb. 27, with a visit to Academy of Art in San Francisco, which is followed by a Saturday matchup with Holy Names in Oakland.