AZUSA, Calif.-- If the NAIA’s top ranked Azusa Pacific was supposed to take time to gel before it could show championship form, the player’s weren’t informed. With four new starters the Cougars got the same old result as they beat 17th ranked Lubbock Christian 90-71 thanks a second half surge and an up-tempo frenzy that left the Lady Chaps wondering what happened to their short-lived lead.
“I was pleased the whole game with our energy,” said Head Coach TJ Hardeman. “I thought we played hard, but in the second half we did a much better job of taking care of the ball.”
The Cougars, who trailed 34-35 at the 19:14 mark in the second half, used an 18-0 run to not only reclaim the lead but seal the win. Amber Williams finished the night with 22 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks, while Briana Hall scored 18 and dished out three assists as the senior leader set the tone throughout the game.
“I was pleased with Bri’s leadership. Even though we had the lead she was still diving on the floor. She was showing the rest of the team what Cougar basketball is all about,” said Hardeman.
And whereas the returners led the way, the newcomers filled in perfectly. Amanda Sims torched the Lady Chaps defense in her first game at Azusa Pacific. The Long Beach State transfer hit nine of her 10 shots (4-4 from 3-point range) and grabbed four rebounds.
“It was really fun. It was good to play against someone other than your teammate,” said Sims. “I think our chemistry, given that we are so new, is very good. We have a lot more to do obviously, but the positive attitude is bringing us together right now.”
Rebecca Roehrkasse scored 11 points and pulled down seven boards in her first night of action since the coaching staff found her playing intramurals last year. In the backcourt true freshman Katie Powell started alongside Hall and went 3-3 from the field while sophomore transfer Tianna Jones racked up a game-high seven assists off the bench as 14 players registered time for the Cougars.
On the other side, Lubbock Christian’s Kelsey Hoppel hit seven 3-pointers to finish with a team-high 21 points as 2010-11 NAIA all-American honorable mention guard Emily Atkins struggled from the floor; making only four of her 12 shots to finish with a dozen points.
Azusa Pacific will get back on the floor tomorrow night against Wayland Baptist for a 5:30 p.m. tip.