AZUSA, Calif. –The NAIA’s No. 12-ranked Azusa Pacific rallied past Golden State Athletic Conference rival Biola for a 70-56 victory in the Felix Event Center Tuesday evening.
After trailing by a point at halftime, the Cougars bounced back in the second half to out-score the Eagles by 15 points to collect its third double-digit conference victory this season.
Junior guard C.J. Hill tallied 16 points and led the Cougar with 6 assists against no turnovers. Sophomore center Amber Williams recorded 12 points and 13 rebounds notching her third double-double this season but her first in GSAC play. Williams recorded 10 of her rebounds in the first half, including 7 on the offensive end, which tied her career-high.
In an evenly matched first half that featured 5 lead changes and 4 ties, the Cougar’s were hard-pressed to put points on the board with the Eagle’s defense taking junior forward Alex Moore-Porter out of the mix by limiting her to just 2 first-half points. The Eagles assumed a 25-24 lead at halftime on a 3-pointer by junior forward Jennifer French with 55 seconds remaining.
“At the start of the game we were a little excited,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman, “At half time I told the girls we needed to score more than 24 points. I told them to aim for 46 this next half and we did. I think the key is to harness that excitement and do what we have practiced and have been working on. Our game plan was to get down the court, speed up the game and get the ball inside.”
The Cougars came out at the second half with 18 points in the paint and limiting turnovers to just 4, compared to 12 in the first. Azusa Pacific took control in the second half with an 8-0 run ignited by a drive and layup from Hill who got fouled. Though she missed the free throw, All-GSAC center Kristie Hala’ufia made the put-back to give Azusa Pacific a 32-28 lead that it would never relinquish.
To put icing on the cake, Hill sunk a 3-pointer with Moore-Porter followed by a reverse layup with 4:19 remaining to Azusa Pacific its largest margin of the night at 68-51 with just over 4 minutes left in the game. Moore-Porter finished 19 points, scoring 17 in the second half and was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line.
With the victory, the Cougar’s move to an 11-3 overall record and assume sole possession of first place in the GSAC at 4-0. Biola falls to 6-6 overall and 2-2 in GSAC.
Azusa Pacific is on the road for its next two games at No. 3-ranked Point Loma Nazarene (Jan. 9) and Fresno Pacific (Jan. 12). Both games tip off at 5:30 p.m.