AZUSA, Calif. -- Fresh off a revenge win on the road over Biola, and with an upcoming rematch with GSAC co-leader California Baptist rapidly approaching, the NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific played like its thoughts were elsewhere before putting together a 30-6 second-half run in an 80-57 win over Point Loma Nazarene Saturday night at the Felix Event Center.
The win, coupled with California Baptist’s Thursday defeat at Westmont, puts Azusa Pacific into a tie for the GSAC lead with the Lancers heading into Tuesday’s clash in Azusa.
Senior guard C.J. Hill provided an important spark off the bench, scoring a team-high 13 points to tie her season-high, and junior guard Eboni Sadler sparked the Cougar defense with a game-high 7 steals to go with 12 points and 5 rebounds.
Senior forward Alex Moore-Porter scored the first 3 points of the 7-and-a-half minute burst that began after Point Loma had pulled to within 2 points at 37-35 with 16:52 remaining, and Sadler got a steal and an easy layup out of the Cougars’ full-court pressure, the first of her 3 steals and 8 points during Azusa Pacific’s 30-6 run that gave the Cougars a 26-point margin, its largest lead of the game, at 67-41 with 9:15 to play.
Azusa Pacific out-rebounded the Sea Lions by a 52-36 margin, returning to a positive rebounding margin after having a 10-game string of out-rebounding opponents snapped Tuesday in the win at Biola. The Cougars grabbed 15 of their 19 offensive rebounds after halftime and out-rebounded Point Loma Nazarene after halftime, 32-17.
In the first half, Point Loma’s Callie Rhoads tied the game at 16-16 with a 3-pointer just before the midpoint of the period, but Sadler and senior center Kristie Hala’ufia scored back-to-back baskets to spark a 6-0 run the gave the Cougars the lead for good. Hill scored 7 of her points in the final 5:14 of the first half, helping her team to a 5-point (32-27) halftime edge.
Hala’ufia shared the team scoring lead, finishing with 13 points, and senior guard Michelle Byrd was also in double figures with a 10-point, 6-rebound, 4-assist performance. Junior center Amber Williams collected 7 points with a game-high 9 rebounds.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 20-4 overall, 12-2 GSAC, and the Cougars have now posted 8 consecutive 20-win seasons. Point Loma Nazarene falls to 9-13 overall and 4-10 GSAC.