AZUSA, Calif. – Twenty-four hours after posting one of the most significant victories in program history, Holy Names University was slapped back to reality by the NAIA’s top-ranked Azusa Pacific which drubbed the Hawks, 105-68, Saturday evening at the Felix Event Center.
All-American forward Lance Soderberg scored 14 of his season-high 22 points in the first half, and 4 other Cougars scored in double-figures as the Azusa Pacific put away Holy Names in rather quick fashion. The Cougars jetted out to a 19-7 lead in the first 5 minutes and then used a 20-0 run midway through the half to open an eye-popping 45-19 lead with still 6 minutes remaining before halftime.
“It’s kind of easy to make shots when you’re that wide open,” said Soderberg, who canned 8-of-14 shots for the game, including 7 of his first 9. “We ran our offense, got good looks and didn’t force any shots.”
Azusa Pacific shared the wealth throughout the entire first half, frustrating a Hawk defense that didn’t know from which side the attack would come or where to cover on defense. In fact, 6 different Cougars scored during the game-deciding 20-0 run in which the Hawks endured an offensive meltdown of monumental proportions, missing 8 consecutive shots while turning the ball over another 3 times.
“We moved the ball well tonight,” said Cougar coach Bill Odell who moved to within 2 wins of collegiate career win No. 400. “We found the open people and knocked down shots.”
For the game Azusa Pacific shot a season-best 53% from the floor, including a sizzling 62% (21-for-34) in the first half when the Cougars raced out to an insurmountable 61-31 halftime lead.
“I expected Holy Names to be a little more physical,” added Soderberg, “but after first contact, they kind of fell away. Maybe last night took something out of them.”
The night before Holy Names caught the attention of Azusa Pacific by upsetting GSAC power and No. 21-ranked Biola, 78-70, in La Mirada for its first-ever victory over the Eagles.
“That was a very good game for them,” said Soderberg referring to the Hawks’ win at Biola. “Maybe they were a little sore. They opened the second half tonight with better intensity but it slowly went away as the game wore on.”
Holy Names cut the Cougar margin to 19 early in the second half before Azusa Pacific managed a 20-8 run to dash any hopes the Hawks held for a dramatic comeback.
Marshall Hartman led Holy Names with 16 points, but the burly 6-foot-7 center was just 6-for-18 from the floor and managed only 3 rebounds in 32 minutes of play.
Colton Cornfoot, who missed last week’s game at Cal State L.A. with a sprained knee, returned to action tonight by dropping in 12 points, all in the first half, on 4-for-6 shooting in just 13 minutes of work. The blowout allowed him to rest for the Tuesday’s GSAC home-opener against arch-rival Biola.
“Biola is a big game with high atmosphere that is going to put us to the test,” said Cougar guard Josh Reisman, who came off the bench tonight to tally 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
Juniors Demario Butler and Brice Prather each finished with 10 points.
“I wish we were about 2 weeks farther along,” said Odell. “I’d like to have 9 or 10 games under us before playing Biola and Westmont next week. We’re a couple of weeks behind where I’d like us to be in terms of game experience. Tonight you got to see glimpses of what Demario and Scott (Zea) and Tristin (King) can do in this offense.”
With tonight’s victory, Azusa Pacific improves to 3-1, while Holy Names falls to 4-5.
Tickets for the Biola game are still available and can be purchased at the Felix Event Center. All Azusa Pacific students must pick up a free ticket for admittance to the game. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and will be preceded by the women’s game between Azusa Pacific and Biola.