EL CAJON, Calif. -- Junior guard Eboni Sadler sparked the NAIA’s No. 8-ranked Azusa Pacific to its fifth straight victory, scoring a team-high 23 points in the Cougars’ 81-65 road win over San Diego Christian Saturday afternoon.
Sadler, who is averaging a team-high 19.6 points during the 5-game streak, recorded her third 20-point game in the past 5 games, shooting 8-of-12 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. She also tied a season-high with 5 steals to lead Azusa Pacific’s defensive effort, which gathered 12 steals from the Hawks.
The Cougars trailed only once, and only by a single point for all of 33 seconds midway through the opening half. That’s when senior guard C.J. Hill drilled a 3-pointer to push Azusa Pacific back in front with a 20-18 lead with 9:14 remaining in the first half, and the Cougars led the rest of the way. Sadler and senior forward Alex Moore-Porter combined to score 19 of the team’s next 24 points, pacing Azusa Pacific to a 44-36 halftime edge.
Sadler scored the first 4 points of an 8-0 run early in the second half that pushed the lead into double-digits for good, turning a 48-40 margin into a 56-40 lead, a burst that took just 1:40 off the clock. The closest San Diego Christian got after that was 12 points, at 61-49 with 11:25 to play, which was answered by a 13-5 run that gave the Cougars a 74-54 lead, the 20-point margin its largest of the game, with 7:23 to play.
Moore-Porter finished with 17 points, scoring 15 in the opening half, while junior point guard Briana Hall added 16 points, 6 rebounds, and a game-high 9 assists. Hall, who ranks in the NAIA’s top 10 in assists, has dished out at least 9 assists 6 times this season. Hill added her fourth double-digit scoring performance of the year, hitting Azusa Pacific’s only 3-pointer of the game and finishing with 11 points and 5 rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench.
The Cougars posted a positive rebounding margin for the eighth consecutive game, out-rebounding the Hawks 42-35 with a balanced effort led by Sadler and senior guard Michelle Byrd’s 7-board efforts.
San Diego Christian was led by a 25-point performance from Jasmin Thomas, who drilled 9-of-12 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. She was the Hawks’ only double-digit scorer, with Jermani Daniels finishing a point away from a double-double with 9 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
With the win, Azusa Pacific wraps up the first half of the 20-game GSAC schedule just a game behind conference leader California Baptist, which went down to the wire to hold off a Fresno Pacific squad that is winless in GSAC play this year. The Cougars improve to 16-4 overall and 8-2 GSAC, remaining tied with Biola for second place in the conference standings. San Diego Christian falls to 6-12 overall and 1-9 in GSAC play.
The Cougars are back in action on Tuesday, Jan. 25, kicking off the back half of the GSAC schedule with a visit to the Fresno Pacific squad that still seeks its first conference win after throwing a scare into GSAC-leading California Baptist today.