AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 12-ranked Azusa Pacific ended the calendar year with a shooting performance it will gladly forget in a 71-62 loss to NCAA Div. II’s No. 20-ranked Seattle Pacific University Thursday afternoon at the Felix Event Center.
Junior forward Alex Moore-Porter scored a game-high 19 points, but the Cougars shot a season-low 30 percent (19-for-63) and trailed by double digits for more than half the game. Junior guard C.J. Hill was the only other Azusa Pacific player to join Moore-Porter in double figures, scoring 14 points with team-highs of 3 assists and 3 steals.
Hill and Moore-Porter combined for 17 of Azusa Pacific’s 24 first-half points. In a 4-minute stretch between Hill buckets, Seattle Pacific reeled off 10 straight points for its first double-digit lead of the game at 15-4 with 12:48 to play in the half.
Hill scored 9 in the opening half, and she and Moore-Porter were the only Cougars who scored in the first 14:30 of the game until sophomore point guard Briana Hall’s layup sparked a 10-4 run late in the half that pulled Azusa Pacific to within 6 points at 29-23 with 2 minutes left in the half. Seattle Pacific’s Sydney Benson scored 6 of the final 7 points before halftime, all in the paint, to give the Falcons a 35-24 halftime advantage.
Sophomore center Kristie Hala’ufia scored the opening bucket of the second half to trim the Falcon lead to single digits at 35-26, but Seattle Pacific reeled off 9 straight in less than 2 minutes for a 44-26 lead with 17:01 to play. Hala’ufia, who entered the game averaging 13.2 points a game, was held to those 2 points in a 1-for-9 shooting effort.
After junior guard Michelle Byrd knocked down a 3-pointer for her only made field goal to trim the Cougars’ deficit to 48-33 with 13:50 to play, Azusa Pacific went the next 7-and-a-half minutes with just a single field goal. Trailing 61-42 with just over 8 minutes left, Hill and Moore-Porter each hit 3-pointers in a 13-5 run that closed the gap to 66-55 with 2:43 remaining. Seattle Pacific held off the late Cougar charge with a pair of Megan Hoisington free throws and Melissa Reich’s conventional 3-point play to take a 71-55 lead into the final 2 minutes of regulation.
Seattle Pacific, which improves to 9-2 on the year, was led by Daesha Henderson’s team-high 16 points, and Hoisington contributed a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double. The Falcons got a first-half lift from Benson, who scored 8 of her 11 points off the bench in the first half before picking up her fifth foul with 13:20 to play in regulation.
The loss snaps Azusa Pacific’s 6-game win streak, dropping the Cougars’ overall record to 9-3 heading back into Golden State Athletic Conference play, which resumes for the final 18 games of the schedule beginning with Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. matchup with Concordia.