AZUSA, Calif. -- Senior forward Alex Moore-Porter became the second player in the last 48 hours to reach the 1,500 career point milestone Saturday, following senior Kristie Hala’ufia into a select group in Azusa Pacific women’s basketball history with a 19-point effort in a 94-64 win over Hope International Saturday.
Hala’ufia reached 1,500 career points in Thursday’s win over Vanguard, and Moore-Porter reached the milestone with her first basket of the game Saturday. She created her own scoring opportunity with a steal that set up a driving layup through the paint for a 31-14 lead midway through the first half. That basket was the first of 7 straight Cougar points scored by Moore-Porter during a 24-6 run that gave the NAIA’s No. 8-ranked Azusa Pacific its largest lead of the first half at 48-20 with 3:28 left until halftime.
“I’m so proud of Kristie – the dedication she has shown me makes me push myself harder,” Moore-Porter said. “For us to do this together, it really means a lot to us. As an individual achievement, that might have meant something more to me in my first 2 years (at Azusa Pacific), but my focus now is the team. I really want our team to win a national championship, so that’s my only focus.”
The senior duo becomes the first-ever tandem of 1,500-point scorers in program history that have played on the same team. Moore-Porter, who entered the game with 1,499 points, moved past Hala’ufia into fifth on the program’s all-time scoring list with a current career total of 1,518, while Hala’ufia’s 7-point effort puts her in sixth with 1,516 career points.
“Those accomplishments speak a lot to individual hard work and perseverance,” Cougar head coach T.J. Hardeman said. “When you talk about pursuing excellence, as far as the time spent outside of practice and thinking about her game and what she needs to improve, Alex works harder than anybody towards that pursuit. Regardless of the achievement, she’s never satisfied with it, and I know she will continue to work just as hard to achieve her goals.”
Junior guard Eboni Sadler was the game’s leading scorer, hitting 10-of-16 shots for 24 points, and senior guard Michelle Byrd added 14 points that included three 3-pointers. Junior point guard Briana Hall orchestrated a career-high 11 assists, reaching double figures in assists for the first time after recording 9 assists on 5 separate occasions throughout her career.
Moore-Porter and Sadler were both in double figures in the opening half, tallying 11 points each to pace the Cougar offense en route to a 48-33 halftime lead. Azusa Pacific hit 7-of-15 3-pointers in the opening half, with 6 different Cougars finding the net from 3-point range.
Hope International trimmed the 15-point halftime margin down to 12 points 4 times in the first 4 minutes of the second half before Azusa Pacific reeled off a 15-2 scoring burst over the next 3 minutes. Sadler scored back-to-back baskets in the run, and Byrd followed up on the next possession with a 3-pointer that made it 66-46. The Cougars led by at least 20 points the rest of the way, scoring 14 of the game’s final 20 points for the final 30-point margin.
The Cougars also won the rebounding battle by a 20-board margin, 56-36, out-rebounding the opponent for the sixth straight game. All 16 players on the Azusa Pacific roster played, with 8 players scoring at least 5 points and 7 players recording at least 5 rebounds.
“Rebounding is a fundamental of the game, and if you have that advantage over your opponent, you have a higher chance of winning,” said Moore-Porter, who had 5 rebounds, including 3 offensive boards. “Rebounding well, tempo, defense, and your energy level all lead to good things.”
Leading the way for the Cougar bench were freshman Hannah Kenny and junior Amber Williams, who combined for 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“We know that we have some depth, and we have been focused lately on making our athleticism more apparent,” Hardeman said. “You do that by pressuring, running up and down the court, and rotating more players in, and that was our goal tonight. We wanted to turn it into a track meet, because we’ve got a lot of players who want to do that.”
Hope International was led by Samera Dorton’s 18-point, 12-rebound double-double, and center Champ Hood added 16 points for the Royals, who suffered their fifth loss in 6 games after a 9-3 start to the 2010-11 campaign. Hope International falls to 10-8 overall and 2-6 in GSAC play.
With the victory, Azusa Pacific has its first 3-game conference winning streak this year, improving to 14-4 overall while remaining tied for second in the GSAC standings with a 6-2 conference mark. The Cougars are back in action Tuesday, Jan. 18, when they host the NAIA’s No. 23-ranked The Master’s in a 5:30 p.m. contest.