AZUSA, Calif. – The NAIA’s No. 4-ranked Azusa Pacific used a balanced attack and inspired play to run away from Albertson College of Caldwell, Ida., for an 87-69 victory in the closing game of the 19th Annual Cougar Classic at the Felix Event Center.
After 2 lackadaisical performances earlier this week, Azusa Pacific put together a complete effort with 12 different Cougars scoring, including 5 that reached double digits. Demario Butler was masterful for Azusa Pacific, tallying team highs of 13 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals to pace the Cougars.
“I talked to Demario about his rebounding,” said Cougar coach Bill Odell, “and he said he didn’t feel like he was being aggressive enough. Tonight he was, especially on the offensive side. For him, it’s a matter of playing in the system and just letting his talent come out.”
All-American Lance Soderberg and reserve Scott Zea each added 12 points while Mike Hornbuckle tallied 11. Tristan King poured in 10 off the bench. Azusa Pacific led by as much as 26 at 87-61 before settling for the 18-point verdict.
“I think the guys were embarrassed by their performance last night,” said Odell, “especially after how Concordia handled Montana State tonight. We played with a lot more energy against a good Albertson team.”
Azusa Pacific led 48-30 at halftime after 10 different Cougars scored in the first half of play. The Cougars used an 11-3 blitz to open up an early 18-8 lead which quickly ballooned to 35-21 following a Hornbuckle trey from the left wing.
Albertson was led by Bradon Neilsen’s 13 points, but the Coyotes were done in by 18 turnovers, 11 of which came in the first half.
Azusa Pacific has now won 7 straight and improves to 8-1 on the season while Albertson falls to 3-6.