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Picking Up Momentum

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February 24, 2009
Joe Reinsch
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FULLERTON, Calif. -- Junior center Kristie Hala’ufia had a double-double by halftime, and the NAIA’s No. 19-ranked Azusa Pacific led by as many as 41 points as it snapped a 3-game losing streak with an 80-51 victory over Hope International Tuesday night.

Hala’ufia played just 9 minutes after halftime and finished with 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season and her third in the past 6 games. Sophomore forward Alex Moore-Porter scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to help the Cougars post their largest rebounding margin over an opponent with a 49-26 edge on the boards.

Freshman center Amber Williams was every bit as effective as the Cougars’ starting frontcourt tandem, registering a career-high 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field along with 7 rebounds while playing a season-high 19 minutes. Sophomore guard Michelle Byrd set the tone for the backcourt, grabbing 6 of her game-high 7 steals in the opening half, and she added 8 points and 8 boards.

Azusa Pacific didn’t actually lead until over 6 minutes had passed from the opening tip, but a Hala’ufia bucket with 12:59 to play in the opening half sparked a 10-0 run that gave the Cougars the lead for good. Starting with the 10-point spurt, Azusa Pacific finished the half on a 25-7 run, taking a 38-21 advantage into halftime.

After Hope International’s Shauna Ricker scored the opening bucket of the second half, the Cougars reeled off 18 consecutive points in a 5-minute, 15-second stretch for a 56-23 lead. After Hope International closed the gap to less than 30 points at 59-30, Azusa Pacific held the Royals without a field goal for nearly 5 minutes at the front end of a 15-3 run that gave the Cougars their largest lead of the game at 74-33 with 4:54 to play.

Hope International had 3 players register double figures, led by Lindsay Salazar’s 15-point effort. Kendra James and Kasey Philyaw added 11 points each for the Royals, who dropped to 1-25 overall, 0-18 in GSAC play.

Azusa Pacific improves to 19-9 overall, 10-8 GSAC, and the victory solidifies its hold on fourth place in the GSAC standings, as both California Baptist and Biola fell out of a 3-way fourth-place tie with the Cougars following Tuesday night defeats for both programs. Azusa Pacific is back in action in the GSAC’s lone Thursday night contest, hosting San Diego Christian at 5:30 p.m.