AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 7-ranked Azusa Pacific suffered its second defeat of the season in its non-conference finale, dropping an 83-73 decision to NCAA Div. II Ferris State (Mich.) Monday afternoon in the Cougars’ final non-conference tuneup.
Despite completely erasing an 11-point halftime deficit, Azusa Pacific was simply overpowered by Ferris State’s Rachel Folcik, who registered 22 of her game-high 34 points in the second half. Folcik proved to be the difference in an otherwise evenly-matched game, pulling down a game-high 15 rebounds while dishing out a game-high 6 assists.
Sophomore center Kristie Hala’ufia scored 12 of her 17 points in a 14-2 run midway through the second half that turned a 56-45 deficit into a 59-58 Cougar advantage with 7:52 to play in the game. However, Ferris State reeled off 10 straight points in less than 90 seconds to take the lead for good. With 1:46 left in the game, senior forward Abby Johnson converted a 3-point play to close the deficit to 75-70, but Folcik pushed the lead to 77-70 with just under a minute remaining, and the Bulldogs made all 6 of its free throw attempts in the closing minute to put the game out of reach.
Azusa Pacific led for much of the early part of the opening half, taking its largest lead of the game at 16-10 on sophomore center Kristel Eddington’s jumper with 12 minutes to play in the half. However, the Bulldogs went on a 21-5 run over the next 7-and-a-half minutes, limiting the Cougars to just 1 field goal during the stretch while pushing its lead out to 10 points at 31-21 with 4:36 left in the period. After a Johnson jumper with 2:32 to go cut the margin to 32-29, Folcik made back-to-back baskets to spark an 8-0 run to close out the half and give Ferris State a 40-29 halftime advantage.
Johnson led the way for Azusa Pacific with a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double, and Hala’ufia grabbed 8 boards to go with her 17-point effort. Senior guard Sarah Leathers added 15 points and 6 rebounds.
Both teams finished with 40 total rebounds, and the Ferris State posted a slight edge in turnover margin, giving the ball up 21 times to Azusa Pacific’s 22 turnovers. The Cougars were seemingly done in by a first-half shooting effort of 27 percent (9-for-33). Besides Folcik’s standout effort, other double-figure scorers included Caitlin Hutchison (11 points) and Teghan Thelen (10 points), while Jenna Guay turned in a 9-point, 9-rebound performance for the Bulldogs.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific drops to 11-2 on the season, while Ferris State wraps up its 3-game swing through Southern California with a victory that improves its overall record to 8-4. The Bulldogs lost by a combined 4 points to Cal State Dominguez Hills (63-60) and Cal State San Bernardino (75-74) last weekend.
The Cougars kick off the remaining 17 games of the conference schedule when they host Hope International on Saturday, Jan. 5, in the first game of a GSAC men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader, with the opening tip slated for 5:30 p.m.