AZUSA, Calif. – The schedule-makers did Azusa Pacific favor. If the Cougars have to play 3 games in 5 days, it’s a fortunate reprieve to draw Hope International in the middle.
Without leading scorer Demario Butler, who was sidelined, the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Azusa Pacific still rolled to its 12th consecutive win, putting away Hope International, 97-64.
Two nights after muscling out a victory at The Master’s and 2 days away from visiting rival Concordia, Azusa Pacific was able to make quick work of Hope International and in the process play all 13 available Cougars.
Five different Cougars scored in double figures with Tristan King, who started in the place of Butler, leading the way with 14 points, 9 of which came in the first half.
For the fifth straight game, the Cougars jetted out to a double-digit lead in the opening minutes of the game, this time scoring the first 14 points. The Royals cut its deficit to 8 at 16-8 but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way. Led by Scott Zea’s 12 first-half points, the Cougar bench spurred a 16-2 run midway through the half to put Azusa Pacific up 37-13. The Cougars settled for a 54-25 advantage at the break.
“We did a very good job defensively, especially in the first half,” said Azusa Pacific coach Bill Odell. “We let down some in the second half but that was to be expected. I was hoping to be able to play a lot of people tonight and get ready for Saturday night.”
Azusa Pacific forced Hope International to miss 28 of its first 37 shots while inducing 17 turnovers in the first 24 minutes of play.
All-American Lance Soderberg added 12 points in just 19 minutes of play while Mike Hornbuckle chipped in 11 points. Colton Cornfoot tossed in 11 points to go along with a career-high 4 steals. Josh Reisman, who moved back into the starting line-up at the point, tallied 6 points, a career-high 6 rebounds and 4 assists while playing a team-high 21 minutes.
Azusa Pacific has now won 12 straight and improves to 13-1 overall, 4-0 in the GSAC. Hope International suffers its ninth straight loss and is 0-9 on the season, 0-3 in the GSAC.