AZUSA, Calif. – Levi Seekins made an improbable lay-up at the end of regulation the then drained his fourth trey of the night with 1:21 left in the regulation to lead unranked Vanguard to an 81-80 upset of No. 2 Azusa Pacific, before nearly 800 people Tuesday evening at the Felix Event Center.
Seekins scored a game-high 28 points, including 16 after halftime, on 12-of-22 shooting and made his last 4 shots, 2 of which tied the game in regulation and another that gave the Lions their first victory in Azusa since 1992.
Azusa Pacific squandered a 10-point lead in the final 8 minutes of the game but still appeared to have escaped with the win when Lance Soderberg nailed an 10-foot jump hook with 1.2 seconds left. However, the Lions took advantage of a celebrating set of a Cougars and launched a full-court inbounds pass to a streaking Seekins who made a lay-up at the opposite end as time expired, knotting the score at 72-72 to force overtime.
Seekins made a trey to open the extra frame to give Vanguard a 78-75 lead. Azusa Pacific came back to take the lead at 76-75 on a pair of Tristin King free throws. Vanguard’s speedy point guard Horace Wormley, who missed his first 6 3-point shots, then made his fourth straight (3 in the final 5 minutes of regulation) to put the Lions back up at 78-76. Azusa Pacific re-took the lead at 80-78 on a pair of Demario Butler free throws with 1:43 remaining in OT, setting the stage of Seekins, who from the top of the arc calmly sank the Lions’ 11th trey of the evening, the most by any Cougar foe this season.
The Lions shot a fine 11-for-23 from the arc and scored all 9 of their overtime points from beyond the 3-piont line, going 3-for-5 from downtown in the final 5 minutes.
Azusa Pacific had the ball with 13 seconds and one last chance to win the game, but Mike Hornbuckle’s 3-point shot from the corner banged off the side of the backboard, allowing Vanguard to snap a 15-game losing streak to Azusa Pacific.
Azusa Pacific, which was playing without Colton Cornfoot (knee) and Scott Zea (ankle), placed all 5 starters in double figures with Soderberg pacing the way with 17 points and a game-high 8 rebounds. Brice Prather added 13 poitns and 7 rebounds, while Butler finished 13 points.
Vanguard took advantage of first-half foul trouble for Azusa Pacific and closed the half on a 17-6 run to assume a 36-35 lead at halftime. Greg Gusiff scored all 7 of his points during the run and it was his jumper that rallied the Lions back from a 29-19 hole to tie the game at 31 with just under 4 minutes left at the half. Seekins led all players with 12 first-half points, and in a precursor of what was to come later in the evening, it was his 16-foot jumper with 5 seconds left that gave its advantage at halftime.
With the loss Azusa Pacific falls to 17-3 overall, 8-2 in the GSAC, remaining in a first-place tie with San Diego Christian, which lost tonight at The Master’s. Vanguard, which was picked to finished ninth in the GSAC but instead has been the conference’s surprise team to date, improves to 12-8 overall, 6-4 in the GSAC.