AZUSA, Calif. -- Senior center Amber Williams grabbed an Azusa Pacific single-game record 21 rebounds and scored a game-high 21 points as the NAIA's top-ranked Azusa Pacific ran its regular-season winning streak to 18 games with a 54-45 win over No. 5-ranked Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) Friday night.
Over the past two seasons, losses have been few and far between for the Cougars, who've played in two straight national title games and claimed the 2011 NAIA championship. However, during that time Lewis-Clark State has been a thorn in Azusa Pacific's side. The Warriors won all three meetings over the past two years, winning once in Idaho and twice in southern California although none of those wins came at the Felix Event Center.
Behind Williams' 21-point, 21-rebound effort, Azusa Pacific overcame a number of challenges, among them a scoreless start for the first five minutes, which led to a 9-2 deficit with less than 12 minutes to play in the first half. That's when Williams scored her first points, sparking an 8-0 run that gave the Cougars their first lead of the game, a 10-9 advantage with 8:46 left in the period.
Although the Warriors briefly led three more times in the half, Williams scored six points of a 10-3 half-ending run that gave Azusa Pacific a five-point (25-20) halftime lead. By the end of the first 20 minutes, the six-foot senior center already had a double-double, scoring 10 points with 10 rebounds to lead all players in both categories.
Behind another pair of Williams baskets in the paint, the Cougars built the lead to double digits at 33-23 with 15:24 to play in the game. However, Lewis-Clark State knocked down a pair of three-pointers three minutes apart, part of a 10-2 run that closed the gap to two points, and the Warriors pulled even twice on a pair of Jasmine Stohr layups that tied the game at 39-39 and 41-41, the latter with 5:20 left.
Azusa Pacific turned to Williams once more, and she scored on back-to-back possessions to give the Cougars the lead for good heading into the closing minutes. Stohr hit a pair of free throws with just under three minutes remaining to cut the lead to 45-43, and Tasha Bishop's jumper with 1:45 to play kept the Warriors within two until senior point guard Briana Hall finished a layup deep into the shot clock of the ensuing possession to spark a 7-0 game-ending run that sealed the nine-point win.
Hall was Azusa Pacific's only other double-digit scorer outside of Williams, finishing with 10 points and game-highs of five assists and four steals. Junior Rebecca Roehrkasse finished with nine points, and junior guard Amanda Sims pulled down eight rebounds.
The teams shot a combined 32 percent from the field, with Azusa Pacific hitting 22-of-69 for a 32 percent clip. The Cougars were just one-of-14 (seven percent) from three-point range, and they also struggled with a 50 percent performance at the free throw line.
Bishop scored 13 points to lead Lewis-Clark State, which also got 12 points and a game-high four blocks from Stohr. Warrior posts Alyssa Fierro and Kirsi Voshell combined for 30 of Lewis-Clark State's 46 rebounds.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 3-0 overall, winning its 18th consecutive regular-season contest, while Lewis-Clark State drops its first game of the year to fall to 7-1. The Cougars take on another Frontier Conference opponent Saturday, hosting Carroll (Mont.) College at 5:30 p.m. at the Felix Event Center.