SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Azusa Pacific used a 15-0 run early in the game and then relied on 21 second-half free throws to hold off Westmont for an 87-74 Golden State Athletic Conference victory in Murchison Gym Saturday night.
Junior guard Monica Sommers drained a game-high 21 points, including 13 that game from the charity stripe, while All-GSAC forward Lindsey West and junior guard Alyssia Ferdaszewski each added 19 points to lead the Cougars to their eighth straight win over Westmont and their 11th straight in Santa Barbara.
Down 7-2 to open the game, Azusa Pacific scored 15 straight points to assume a 17-7 following Ferdaszewski jumper 8 minutes into the game. The Cougars pushed their cushion to as much as 19 at 35-16 following another Ferdaszewski jumper before settling for a 37-23 halftime lead.
“Our goal is always to push the ball,” said Cougar coach Danelle Liles. “To be honest, we didn’t think all their defenders could defend our people, particularly Monica. It’s not a secret that she likes to go right, but tonight she mixed up, used her left a lot, and made it harder to defender her.”
Azusa Pacific maintained its double-digit lead throughout most of the second half, converting 21-of-34 free throws to keep the Warriors at bay. However, Westmont found its touch from long range and banged 8-of-14 treys to rally to within 6 at 75-69 with just over 2 minutes left. However, Ferdaszewski converted a fast-break lay-up and then assisted on Somers fast-break lay-up to thwart the Warrior threat.
The Cougars shot 20 more free throws than Westmont converting 15 extra over the Warriors makes.
When the Cougars weren’t pushing the ball for easy baskets, they went to West, a 3-time All-GSAC honoree, who took advantage of the Cougars’ high post offense. West scored several lay-ups off driving the ball from the top of the key.
“We took time to watch film and focus on rebounding,” Liles added in response to how her team responded to Tuesday’s gut-wrenching loss to Biola. “Our rebounding and defense made our offense go tonight. We forced lot of turnovers in the first half (17) and did a good job of pressuring them.”
A West lay-up with just under 8 minutes to play put Azusa Pacific up 17 at 66-49. In desperation mode, Warriors Meghan O’Donogue and Megan Fate began raining 3-pointers from a variety of spots along the arc, and Donogue’s last trey of the game cut Westmont’s deficit to single digits for the first time since the opening minutes of the game. Donogue finished with a team-high 20 points. Fate had 15 points, 6 assists and 4 steals.
With the victory, Azusa Pacific improves to 4-3 overall, 1-1 in the GSAC. Westmont falls to 4-4 and 1-1.