Down 11-10 early in the game, Randy Ranalli buried back-to-back treys to jump-start the Fighting Saints, who pushed their lead to 18-11 and never let go. Their defense forced the Cougars to go dead in the water for a 5-minute span in which Azusa Pacific missed 4 straight shots and committed 4 turnovers as well.
Carroll led 34-27 at halftime and then used 12-4 run to sprint out to a 46-31 lead just 3 minutes into the second half. The Carroll lead ballooned to 17 points at 62-45 with 10 minutes left in the game before Azusa Pacific put together a furious charge. Caleb Gervin and Jeff Staniland combined to score the Cougars’ next 15 points to pull Azusa Pacific back to within 5 at 65-60 following a Gervin jumper with 7:13 left to play. A Ryan Dillon trey with 1:17 remaining pulled Azusa Pacific to within 3 at 74-71, but Carroll’s Gary Lynch made 6 straight free throws down the stretch to keep Azusa Pacific at bay.
Lynch finished with a game-high 31 points. Staniland led Azusa Pacific with 22 points, 10 of which came at the charity stripe. Ladrick Simon added 19 points. Junior Danny Rosales registered a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Cougars were a chilly 41% (26-for-64) from the floor, which included an icy 3-for-17 at the 3-point arc. Carroll, on the other hand, shot a sizzling 46% (15-for-33) from the 3-point line.
With the victory, Carroll improves to 7-1, while Azusa Pacific falls to 1-1.