SPOKANE, Wash. – Carroll College used an 8-0 run midway through the first half to take the lead and then relied on its pressure defense to withstand several runs at its advantage before holding on to defeat the NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific, 80-73, in the opening round of the Davenport Inn Whitworth College Classic in Spokane, Wash.
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.