RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- Dana Olsen led the NAIA’s No. 17-ranked California Baptist to a 61-60 upset over visiting No. 8 Azusa Pacific Tuesday night, scoring 4 of her game-high 16 points and blocking a Cougar 3-point attempt in the final minute of the Lancers’ upset.
The back-and-forth affair saw the lead change hands 10 times, switching back to California Baptist’s favor on Olsen’s layup in the paint with just 5 seconds left in regulation. Olsen had pulled the Lancers to within 1 point with a layup with 43 seconds to play, and she blocked Alex Moore-Porter’s 3-point attempt with the shot clock winding down and 17 seconds remaining to set up her go-ahead basket in the closing seconds.
Azusa Pacific had one last chance at the game-winner, but junior guard Eboni Sadler’s 3-pointer from the left wing hit the back rim as time expired. The Cougars still had the ball with a chance to win despite shooting just 23-of-72 (.319) from the field, its second-lowest field goal percentage in a game this year, along with a dismal 9-for-20 (45 percent) performance from the free throw line.
Senior guard Michelle Byrd scored 11 of her team-high 14 points in the first half, and she also pulled down 8 rebounds including 5 offensive boards. Moore-Porter tallied her first double-double of the year, scoring 13 points to go with a season-high 13 rebounds. Nine of her rebounds came on the offensive glass, part of the Cougars’ 48-40 rebounding edge that included 29 offensive boards that led to a 24-10 edge in second-chance points.
In the first half, a Byrd 3-pointer helped spark a 9-2 run that pushed the Cougars in front, 20-17, but Azusa Pacific was held without a field goal for the final 6 minutes of the period, entering halftime facing a 4-point deficit. The Cougars erased the 29-25 halftime deficit, tying the score 4 times before an 8-0 run resulted in its largest lead of the contest at 41-35 with 13:48 left in the game. The entire run came from second chance points, with Moore-Porter and senior guard C.J. Hill hitting consecutive 3-pointers to snap a 35-35 tie.
Olsen scored consecutive buckets in an 8-0 California Baptist run that swung the lead back to the Lancers at 46-43 midway through the second half. A Brenna Hahn 3-pointer with 7:55 to play pushed the lead to a 4-point margin at 51-47, but a pair of Moore-Porter baskets and a Byrd trey sparked a 9-0 run that put the Cougars back in front, 56-51, with 5:03 remaining. Junior point guard Briana Hall’s layup with just over a minute to play was Azusa Pacific’s only field goal over the final 5 minutes while the Lancers finished with 10 of the game’s final 14 points.
Olsen led all scorers with 16 points, hitting 8-of-13 from the field, and Renetha Burton added a 10-point, 12-rebound double-double for California Baptist. Hahn added 14 points, and S.J. Simmons provided 10 points and a game-high 6 assists in 14 minutes of action off the bench for the Lancers.
The game was 1 of 3 Golden State Athletic Conference contests featuring the 5 teams that entered the day tied for the conference lead through 4 league games. California Baptist’s win moves the Lancers to 4-1 in GSAC play along with The Master’s and Vanguard, with an 11-4 overall record.
Azusa Pacific falls to 3-2 in GSAC, 11-4 overall. The Cougars host No. 21-ranked Westmont on Saturday, Jan. 8, at 5:30 p.m.