SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Leading by 2 at halftime and looking for a way to break open a close game the NAIA’s No. 17-ranked Azusa Pacific made it a point to match the physical play of Rocky Mountain.
The end result was one of the finest defensive halves of the season for the Cougars. They held Rocky Mountain to just 25 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes and rode the wave of defensive pressure to a 64-52 win in the opening game of the GSAC Challenge at Santa Clarita, Calif. hosted by The Master’s College.
Lindsey West scored 22 points and grabbed 8 rebounds while Alyssa Ferdaszewski added 15 points and a season-high 12 rebounds to pace the Cougars.
Midway through the second half, Azusa Pacific found itself leading 50-45 but used a 10-2 run to open up a 13-point lead. West and Ferdaszewski provided 8 of the 10 points in the decisive run with each scoring 4 points.
“It was a real physical game and they did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do,” said head coach Danelle Liles. “We matched their physical play and played well defensively.”
The Cougars have now won five consecutive games and appear to have righted the ship after splitting their first 6 contests of the season. The biggest focus of the team has been on the defensive end where Azusa Pacific struggled early in the season. Tonight, however, it continued to stifle opponents ability post a quality field goal percentage against them.
Rocky Mountain shot 34.7 percent for the game but made only 7-of-28 shots in the second half. The Lady Bears also missed all 8 of their second half 3-point attempts. The Cougars also forced 25 turnovers en route to the win.
“Both teams gave great effort but we played hard defensively and also our rebounding was good tonight. Lindsey West had a phenomenal game,” Liles added.
Indeed, West was everywhere getting easy baskets in transition as well as knocking down a variety of difficult jumpers.
“She ran the floor well and got some easy lay-ups out of it and she also hit some tough shots,” said Liles.
Monica Somers added 10 points for the Cougars while the Lady Bears were paced by Lori Jo Neubauer’s 16 points.
Azusa Pacific will look to put the finishing touches on an undefeated December when it takes on No. 24-ranked Lubbock Christian tomorrow afternoon. The Cougars have been tough to beat on the second day of back-to-back games in 2005 going 3-1 this season.
“Knock on wood,” said Liles upon hearing that statistic. “We like to push the ball and play a lot of people that are able to do that and it can wear teams down.”
The Cougars meet the Lady Chaps on Friday at 2 p.m. at Bross Gymnasium.