LA MIRADA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific, ranked No. 8 in the NAIA, looked nothing like a Top 10 team, and the Cougars suffered a 72-62 loss to No. 3 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) Tuesday afternoon at the Biola University Holiday Classic in La Mirada.
The loss was Azusa Pacific’s third straight in the past 2 seasons against the Warriors, who had a perfect 11-0 start to the season spoiled by a 23-point loss to unranked NAIA Division II Northwest (Wash.) in their final game before Christmas. The loss drops the Cougars to 9-3 on the year, while Lewis-Clark State improves to 12-1 overall.
Tuesday’s matchup was supposed to be the premier battle of Biola’s second annual holiday tournament, which features 13 teams and 17 games played in 2 locations over 3 days. Instead, Azusa Pacific found a variety of ways to melt down and keep the game from becoming competitive.
A pair of seniors picked up technical fouls, including senior center Kristie Hala’ufia, who picked up her third, fourth and fifth fouls within a 49-second span less than 3 minutes into the second half. Her replacement, junior center Amber Williams, whistled for 3 first-half fouls, picked up her fourth and fifth less than 3 minutes apart and was also gone from the game with almost 11 minutes still remaining in the game.
The frontcourt duo combined for just 6 points, 1 rebound, 4 turnovers and 10 fouls in a combined 20 minutes of action. Hala’ufia’s fifth foul was a dead-ball technical foul whistled for an errant elbow that caught a Warriors player away from the ball, and senior guard C.J. Hill also picked up a technical that allowed Lewis-Clark State to take its largest lead of the game at 20 points, 67-47, with 2:30 to play.
The Cougars finished the game on a 15-5 run, including 7 straight points in 35 seconds from junior guard Eboni Sadler, who finished with a team-high 16 points. Junior point guard Briana Hall shared the scoring lead with Sadler, scoring 16 points while dishing out a game-high 5 assists, and senior forward Alex Moore-Porter collected 12 points.
Lewis-Clark State was led by junior forward Jasmine Stohr’s game-high 19 points, and Kirsi Voshell led the Warriors’ 46-29 rebounding edge with a game-high 12 boards. Tasha Bishop and Madison Mendezona came off the bench for a combined 24 points, and the pair drilled 6-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Despite forcing 30 Lewis-Clark State turnovers, Azusa Pacific could not overcome the combination of foul trouble, poor rebounding, and shooting trouble. The Cougars sank just 1-of-9 first-half free throws and trailed by 10 at halftime (40-30), then made just 10-of-30 (33 percent) from the field including 1-of-10 from 3-point range in the second half.
The Cougars take on Evangel (Mo.) Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. in the second day of the 3-day Biola Holiday Classic.