COVINA, Calif – Evidently Azusa Pacific ran out of gas on its way home from a pair of victories in Montana last weekend. Perhaps that’s why the Cougars played tonight’s game a few miles short of campus at Northview High School. And it certainly would explain the game’s end result.
The NAIA’s No. 15-ranked Lewis-Clark State College used a 27-11 run that stretched across both halves to catch and then put away from No. 10 Azusa Pacific for a 67-56 victory in what may prove to be a key intersectional game come next March when at-large berths and seedings are determined for the NAIA Tournament.
The Cougars, who return 11 players including all 5 starters from last year’s NAIA “Sweet 16” team, looked sluggish throughout much of tonight’s game, unable to make free throws, lay-ups and when it counted most, 3-pointers, Once L-C State wrestled away the lead, Azusa Pacific was done, unable to muster much of a response as the Warriors controlled play in the paint and methodically pulled away throughout the second half.
All-conference forward Jasmine Stohr scored 9 of her game-high 22 points during the aforementioned game-turning run which included her second of 2 treys on the night that gave Lewis-Clark State a 39-36 lead at halftime.
Azusa Pacific opened the game running circles around the Warriors, pushing the ball up court and turning mid-court steals into easy lay-ups that propelled the Cougars to a 25-18 lead 12 minutes into play. The Warriors looked befuddled while Azusa Pacific looked like a team that was headed toward its ninth straight win over a Frontier Conference team.
A couple of timeouts and some rest time on the bench for Stohr, however, allowed L-C State to regain its collective composure and the Warriors began to chip away at the deficit while the Cougars seemingly lost a step in its play. Stohr took control and made 8 straight shots over a 15-minute stretch that in the end gave Lewis-Clark State a 51-39 lead following a Stohr lay-up with 14 minutes left in the game.
Azusa Pacific couldn’t offer much of a counterpunch, missing 35 of its final 47 shots and not getting any closer than 6 points in the second half.
An active Stohr was everywhere, grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds, including 6 on the offensive end. Kenna Reiter lent a helping hand with 10 points, including 8 in the second half, to go along with a game-high 5 assists, several of which went to reserve post Alyssa Fierro who scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Cougars, who missed 7 first-half free throws and 10 in the game, were led by C.J. Hill’s 14 points, 9 of which came in the first half. Senior Kristie Hala’ufia added 13 points and 12 rebounds. The Cougar backcourt trio of Hill, Michelle Byrd and Briana Hall were a combined 9-for-34 (.265) from the floor, which included a 4-for-15 clip from the arc.
The game was played at Northview High because Azusa Pacific’s Felix Event Center was closed for set-up for a non-sporting event this weekend.
With the loss, the Cougars fall to 2-1 while Lewis-Clark State improves to 2-0. The 2 teams meet again in less than 10 days on the Warriors’ home court in Lewiston, Ida. Azusa Pacific returns to action at the Staples Classic hosted by L-C State and will take on Warner Pacific University Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. before meeting Lewis-Clark State again Nov. 14 at 4 p.m.