AZUSA, Calif. – Two-time All-GSAC guard Caleb Gervin poured in 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting to lead the NAIA’s No. 6-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 97-59 conference victory over Fresno Pacific during a rare afternoon game at the Felix Event Center.
Gervin scored 13 of his 15 first-half points during a 15-3 Cougar run in which Azusa Pacific blew open a tight game and assumed a commanding 45-30 cushion with just over 2 minutes left in the half. At one point, Gervin scored 10 straight points.
After missing 7 of its first 10 shots, the Cougars caught fire, making 18-of-25 to go up 57-41 following a Gervin jumper with 16:51 left in the game. For the game, Azusa Pacific shot 56% (37-for-66) from the floor, which included an 8-for-14 clip from the 3-point arc.
“The second half we did a much better job of stopping them,” said Gervin. “We practiced all week what they were going to do and how to stop it, and since this was a 4:30 game, it was just like practice.”
Ryan Dillon added 16 points off the bench, thanks to a 4-for-5 effort from the 3-point line. Ladrick Simon added 15 points and a game-high 7 rebounds.
The Cougars used a 21-6 run over a 5-minute stretch in the second half to scoot out to a comfortable 85-51 lead before Cougar coach Bill Odell emptied the bench for the final 10 minutes of the game.
Fresno Pacific, which was able to trade leads for the first 13 minutes of the game, last holding the advantage at 25-24 with 7-and-a-half minutes left in the first half, was paced by Cory Wiggins’ 18 points, 12 of which came in the first half. The Sunbirds shot a blistering 62% (13-for-21) in the first half but was still down 47-38 at the break. The second half was completely a different story as the Sunbirds spent much of their time chasing the Cougars and thus making just 9-of-25 (36%) over the final 20 minutes.
“We challenged them defensively in the second half, and they weren’t able to hit the same shots they made in the first half,” said Odell. “Caleb is just a very good player, and when he plays under control and gets his normal shots he is going to knock them down.”
Azusa Pacific has now won 24 straight over Fresno Pacific, which last beat the Cougars in 1992.
With the victory Azusa Pacific has now won 5 straight and 15 of its past 16 to improve to 21-3 overall and maintains sole possession of first place in the GSAC with 13-1 mark. Fresno Pacific falls to 15-10 overall, 7-7 in the GSAC.