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Published
February 7, 2006
By
Gary Pine
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FULLERTON, Calif. – This was a confidence booster – like the Cougars, who are probably playing their best basketball of the season, really need one right now. It wasn’t the fact that they won, but rather who led the NAIA’s No. 6-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 100-62 Golden State Athletic Conference victory at Hope International.

This win wasn’t achieved by the usual cast of characters, but rather by those who have been sometimes lost in the shadows. And yes, while the game was a blowout, there was a time when the outcome was very much in doubt. That is when guys like Brice Prather, Mike Hornbuckle, Tristan King and Kasey Myers put the team on their shoulders, spurred a 42-14 run and propelled the Cougars to their ninth win by 25 or more points this season.

Twelve of the 13 Cougars who played scored with 5 reaching double digits. Prather dropped in a game-high 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting, and at one point in the first half scored 8 of the Cougars’ 10 points during a 3-minute stretch in which Azusa Pacific assumed an 11-point advantage.

With less than 7 minutes left in the first half, Azusa Pacific was up by just 6 points at 28-22. The Cougars, however, closed the half on a 19-10 run to lead 47-32 at halftime.

“Our depth was showing at that time,” said Cougar coach Bill Odell, “and the guys on the bench were ready to go. We called a couple of things to get us shots inside, and they worked. We did a better job of posting up tonight and not backing down.”

King added 13 points and a team-high 7 rebounds. Lance Soderberg and Josh Reisman each tossed in 13 points on a combined 10-for-17 shooting.

“Tristan played a great ball game,” said Odell. “He did a good job of slowing down their best player, and he played with a lot of energy on offense.”

Hornbuckled finished with 7 points, but he made 2 long jumpers, including a 3-pointer, early in the game that seemed to kick-start a sluggish set of Cougars. Redshirt freshman Ralph Miley was called off the bench unusually early and responded.

“Ralph sparked us in the first half,” said Odell. .”He had a great practice yesterday, and I felt he deserved an opportunity. We needed a little energy at that point and he brought it.

Scott Zea finished 12 points off the bench.

“Everybody contributed off the bench,” Odell added. “We executed well in the second half with our reserves.”

Azusa Pacific put the game away with a 25-6 run to start the second half, and cruised on in for its 18th straight win over Hope International.

The Cougars improves to 21-3 on the season, 12-2 in the GSAC, while Hope International falls to 0-19 overall, 0-13 in the GSAC.