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A Hopeful Beginning

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December 7, 2002
Gary Pine
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AZUSA, Calif. --- The NAIA’s No. 3-ranked Azusa Pacific scored on 10 of its first 11 possessions to jettison to a 21-2 lead 5 minutes into the game and then skated on in for a 126-65 victory over Hope International in both teams’ Golden State Athletic Conference opener.

The Cougars, who suffered a hard-fought defeat at Cal State Bakersfield last night, tonight enjoyed a game played at the opposite end of the spectrum, raining 3-point baskets throughout the evening, hammering home no less than 6 dunks, and racing up and down the court on its way to the most points scored by an Azusa Pacific team since a 128-87 victory over Point Loma Nazarene in the semifinals of the 1994 GSAC Postseason Tourney.

“We maintained a good level of intensity throughout the game,” said Cougar coach Bill Odell, “and didn’t get sloppy or go one-one-one. Our subs really played well in the second half. We’re improving and that’s what I’m asking of them. We haven’t played at the level we want to achieve, but we’re getting a little bit better each game.”

Six different Cougars scored in double figures, led by Ladrick Simon, who recorded his fourth straight 20-point game with 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting, which included a trio of dunks. Jeff Staniland added 19 points after burying 5-of-6 attempts from the 3-point arc, and handed out a game-high 6 assists. Freshman Lance Soderberg added a career-high 17 points off the bench. All 13 Cougars scored.

All told, Azusa Pacific shot an impressive 58% (42-for-73) from the floor. The Cougars dominated nearly every aspect of the game. They shot 49 free throws, making 32, and out-rebounded the Royals, 37-21. Additionally, the Cougar defense forced HIU into a whopping 34 turnovers, including 7 in the first 6 minutes of the game. On the other hand, the Cougars committed a mere 7.

Hope was paced by Jonathan Stoa’s 19 points.

With the victory, which was the Cougars’ 11th straight over HIU, Azusa Pacific improves to 6-2 overall, 1-0 in the GSAC. Hope International falls to 0-6 overall, 0-1 in the GSAC.