LEWISTON, Idaho -- Just 18 hours after handing the NAIA’s No. 16-ranked Lewis-Clark State College just its third home loss in 4 seasons, No. 10-ranked Azusa Pacific completed an impressive weekend sweep of the Frontier Conference’s elite, adding an impressive 60-48 win over No. 7-ranked and previously unbeaten Carroll (Mont.) Saturday afternoon.
Senior forward Abby Johnson, who grew up just across the Snake River in the neighboring town of Clarkston, Wash., enjoyed the visit to her old stomping grounds. She scored a game-high 18 points, grabbed a team-high 6 rebounds and added a block and 4 steals, while last night’s leading scorer, sophomore center Kristie Hala’ufia, again came off the bench in a productive 14-point effort.
Carroll drilled a trio of 3-pointers in the opening 5 minutes, and a pair of Laci High free throws gave the Saints a 13-7 lead with 14:45 to play in the opening half. However, the Cougars responded with a pair of 15-2 runs that turned the game into a surprising rout. Senior guard Sarah Leathers cut the lead to 13-10 on her second of 3 treys in the game, sparking a 15-2 run over the next 6-and-a-half minutes that gave Azusa Pacific a 22-15 lead with 8 minutes left until halftime.
Another Jolene Fuzesy 3-pointer and 2-point basket later, Carroll was right back in the game, trailing just 22-20 before Johnson’s basket on the Cougars’ subsequent possession sparked another 15-2 run over the final 6:10 of the half, giving Azusa Pacific a 37-22 lead at the break.
The Cougars led by double-digits the rest of the way, with another Johnson bucket giving them their largest lead of the game at 25 points, a 58-33 advantage with 8:20 remaining. From there, Carroll scored 15 of the game’s final 17 points, closing to within the final margin of 60-48 with 2:22 to play.
Leathers finished with 11 points for the Cougars, and she picked up a game- and season-high 6 steals to lead a defense that forced 26 Saints turnovers while committing just 11 of its own and limiting Carroll to a 37 percent (18-for-49) shooting performance from the field. Fuzesy led Carroll with a team-high 15 points, including 3 3-pointers, and Elly Bruursema added 11 points off the bench.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 7-1 on the season, including 4 wins against teams ranked in the NAIA’s top 16. Carroll drops to 11-1. The Cougars enter their longest layoff from game action, a 10-day break before returning to action at home on Dec. 18 and 19, where they will host Cumberlands (Ky.) and Trinity Western (B.C.) at the Felix Event Center.
Wells Fargo Invitational all-tournament team
Tournament MVP - Abby Johnson, Azusa Pacific
All-Tournament - Jolene Fuzesy, Carroll
All-Tournament - Kristie Hala'ufia, Azusa Pacific
All-Tournament - Denise Hill, Albertson
All-Tournament - Sadie Short, Lewis-Clark State
All-Tournament - Mandy Troutt, Lewis-Clark State