CARSON, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 16-ranked Azusa Pacific shot a season-low 35 percent from the field, including an 18 percent clip from 3-point range, and the Cougars came up just short in a 53-44 loss to Cal State Dominguez Hills Saturday evening.
Senior forward Abby Johnson was the lone Cougar to score in double figures, finishing with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. Johnson also nailed 5-of-5 from the free-throw line and pulled down a team-high 6 rebounds. In last year’s meeting with the Toros in Azusa, Johnson scored 28 points on 13-of-18 shooting from the field.
The rest of the Cougars combined to shoot 26 percent (10-of-38) from the field, and junior forward Nikita Gordon was the only other player for Azusa Pacific to shoot over 50 percent from the game, sinking 4-of-7 for 8 points.
Despite its shooting struggles, Azusa Pacific kept within striking distance, closing an 11-point halftime deficit to 5 points at 34-29 on a pair of Johnson free throws with 13:44 remaining in the game. Johnson scored 8 of the Cougars’ first 10 points of the second half, then cut the Toros lead to just 3 points at 38-35 with 9:09 to play on a putback of a C.J. Hill 3-point miss.
However, Cal State Dominguez Hills reeled off an 11-2 run over the next 5 minutes to take a 49-37 lead with just over 4 minutes remaining. Johnson and Gordon hit back to back baskets to cut the margin to 49-41, and senior guard Sarah Leathers hit 1 of her 2 3-pointers with just over a minute left to cut the lead to 50-44. Aujanee Baldwin’s bucket with 34 seconds left helped seal the Toro victory.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific drops to 3-1 on the season, while Cal State Dominguez Hills remains unbeaten through 3 games. The Cougars return home to host Westmont as Golden State Athletic Conference play continues on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 5:30 p.m.