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Cougars Hang in the Balance

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November 23, 2002
Gary Pine
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SPOKANE, Wash.. – The NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific used a 16-2 run with less than 6 minutes left in the game to overcome a near game-long deficit and beat No. 15 Lewis-Clark State College (Ida.), 70-59, in the closing round of the Davenport Inn Whitworth College Classic.

The Cougars used a balanced attack to post the victory, but it was junior forward Brett Michel who delivered the most in the clutch, scoring 7 of his 13-points during the late run. Down by as much as 10 points in the second half, Azusa Pacific found itself still staring at a 52-47 hole with 5:50 to play before the Cougars mounted their charge. Senior guard Caleb Gervin scored 6 points in less than 2 minutes to jettison the Cougar offense, and his lay-up with 4:06 to play gave the Cougars a 55-54 lead they would not relinquish.

After a Ryan Dillon trey pushed the Cougar lead to 58-54, Michel converted a conventional 3-point play. He then nailed 2 free throws with 2:03 to cap the run and give Azusa Pacific an insurmountable 63-54 cushion. Lewis-Clark State committed only 11 turnovers on the evening, however, 4 of them came during that fatal run. The Warriors had led from midway through the first half, which included a 36-28 advantage at halftime, until the end when Azusa Pacific put on its blitz.

Along with Michel, 4 different Cougars scored in double figures and 3 Cougars nearly pulled off double-doubles. Senior forward Ladrick Simon tallied a game-high 15 points. Senior guard Jeff Staniland, who had to fight through a box-and-one defense for the first time in his collegiate career, checked in with 10 points, 6 of which came in the final minute at the free throw line as he kept LCSC at bay. He was also 1 rebound shy of his first-ever double-double, snagging a career-high 9 rebounds. Michel had the aforementioned 13 points to go along with 8 rebounds. Gervin, who was saddled with foul trouble all night and limited to just 14 minutes of playing time before fouling out, had 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Junior Danny Rosales collected a game-high 11 rebounds and was 1 field goal away from a double-double.

The Cougars, who were a paltry 3-for-17 from the 3-point arc in last night’s loss to Carroll, didn’t come up with any solution in the 24 hours between games. They were just as bad tonight, going 2-for-15 from the arc and leave Spokane with a combined 5-for-32 (16%) effort in 3-point territory at the Whitworth Field House.

With the victory, Azusa Pacific improves to 2-1 on the season, while Lewis-Clark State falls to 1-2.