LA MIRADA, Calif. – Unranked Biola University rallied from certain defeat by overcoming a 13-point deficit in the final 8 minutes to upset the NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific, 61-56, in a Golden State Athletic Conference women’s basketball game Tuesday evening.
With Biola trailing 52-39, sophomore Jesilyn Conicelli scored 6 of her team-high 21 points on 3 consecutive possessions to ignite a 14-0 Eagle run that not only put Biola back in the game but guive the Eagles the lead at 53-52 following a pair of Megann Alberts’ free throws with still 4 minutes left to play.
A series of Azusa Pacific miscues down the stretch, including 4 missed throws and a technical foul on Kristie Hala’ufia, spelled doom for a rattled set of Cougars who went 7 minutes and 35 seconds without a field goal. In fact, Biola used a 20-1 run to rally for its first win over Azusa Pacific in 6 meetings.
Point guard Charrise Reese aided the Biola cause with 12 points, including 8 in the second half to go along with her 3 steals. Her pick of Cougar point guard C.J. Hill with just over 7 minutes remaining sparked Biola on its game-winning run.
Sophomore Jessica Raber was the only other Cougar in double-figures, coming off the bench to toss in 11 points, including 2 off the Cougars’ only basket in the final 8 minutes, that coming with 10 seconds left in the frame.
Behind the inside-out play of sophomore < b>Alex Moore-Porter and her game-high 22 points, Azusa Pacific took over a sloppily-played game in which the 2 teams combined for 31 first-half turnovers and a paltry 33-percent shooting from the floor. The Cougars buried 6 shots from beyond the 3-point arc in the second half to overcome a 6-point hole early in the frame. Back-to-back treys by Moore-Porter and freshman Brianna Hall knotted the game at 26-26, all part of a 10-0 Cougar run that gave Azusa Pacific control of play in the second half.
Biola tied the game at 33-all on a Conicelli lay-up, but Azusa Pacific responded with a 10-2 run, including 8 straight by Moore-Porter, setting up the Cougars’ eventual 13-point advantage at 52-39 following a Hill trey with 7:55 to go, Azusa Pacific’s final basket until Raber’s lay-up with 10 seconds.
The Cougars were plagued by a season-high 29 turnovers and just 36-percent (20-for-56) shooting from the floor.
With the victor, Biola improves to 9-3 overall, 2-2 in the GSAC. Azusa Pacific falls to 11-3 overall, 2-2 in the GSAC.