SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific held the NAIA’s No. 3-ranked Point Loma Nazarene to its lowest scoring total of the year, but the No. 12-ranked Cougars committed a season-high 29 turnovers against the Sea Lions’ full-court pressure in a 57-46 loss Saturday night. The Cougars have now lost 10 straight at Point Loma Nazarene’s Golden Gymnasium, and 14 of the last 17 meetings regardless of location.
“I’m not sure who’s going to win first – the Lakers in Portland or the Cougars at Point Loma,” head coach T.J. Hardeman said. “In our minds as competitors, we should have won, but they’re a great team with the home court advantage.”
“It’s a long conference season and different teams are going to beat other teams throughout the year. When you lose a game, you need to make adjustments and be ready to play the next team. Otherwise you’re probably in for more bad things in your future if you can’t figure out what changes to make for the next game on the schedule.”
Junior forward Alex Moore-Porter scored a team-high 18 points, and sophomore center Amber Williams added a solid 10-point, 9-rebound effort. However, reigning GSAC Player of the Year Colleen Planeta eventually wore down the Cougar frontline for a game-high 21 points to go with 7 rebounds.
Planeta gave Point Loma Nazarene its largest first-half lead at 24-16 with 1:48 to go, but Moore-Porter hit a 3-pointer to pull Azusa Pacific within 3 at the break, 24-21. The Cougars continued the 10-0 run into the second half, with Moore-Porter giving her team the go-ahead bucket less than 2 minutes into the period for a short-lived 26-24 lead.
Just 13 seconds later, P.J. Hanson snapped Point Loma Nazarene’s drought from beyond the arc with the Sea Lions’ first 3-pointer of the game. After Hanson’s trey gave Point Loma a 27-26 lead with 18:10 remaining in the game, Planeta scored on 3 straight Sea Lions possessions to spark a 13-2 run that widened the lead to 9 points at 37-28 with 13:32 to play.
Azusa Pacific twice got back within 5 points in the next 2 minutes, but another Hanson 3-pointer capped a 10-2 run that gave Point Loma Nazarene a 13-point lead, its largest lead of the game at 49-36 with 7:51 left. The Cougars never got closer than 8 points the rest of the way.
Led by junior guard Michelle Byrd and her game-high 10 rebounds, Azusa Pacific controlled the boards to the tune of a 45-33 rebounding advantage, which along with Point Loma Nazarene’s 7-for-19 free throw shooting helped keep the game close despite the Cougars’ 29 turnovers and 18-for-52 (35 percent) shooting performance from the field.
“We were pleased with our rebounding effort, and we played well defensively but we didn’t take care of the ball or shoot very well ourselves,” Hardeman said. “Our second line struggled to make good decisions with the ball.”
With the loss, Azusa Pacific’s first setback in Golden State Athletic Conference play, the Cougars drop to 11-4 overall and 4-1 GSAC, while Point Loma Nazarene seizes the league lead with a 5-1 GSAC mark. The Sea Lions are now 14-1 overall this year.
Azusa Pacific visits Fresno Pacific on Tuesday, Jan. 12, before returning home next Saturday to take on the GSAC’s only other 1-loss team, the NAIA’s No. 4-ranked Vanguard.