LA MIRADA, Calif.-- Following NAIA No. 11 ranked Azusa Pacific’s 84-65 win over Montana Tech (4-7)on Thursday night, one of the Cougar players astutely said to head coach T.J. Hardeman, ‘”If we would have played that team in Kentucky we would have lost.”
The statement was referring to Azusa Pacific’s poor play in the midst of the program’s biggest losing streak since 2009. But in the last two games it sure seems like the Cougars have overcome many of the early season woes as evidenced by their second straight double-digit win at the Biola Holiday Classic.
“Tonight we saw more of a team identity. We got the concept we’re more of an inside-out type of team,” said Hardeman. “During that stretch where we were losing we lost a lot of our focus, and now have it back. It was a nice feeling to have everyone working together.”
Amber Williams highlighted Azusa Pacific’s (7-4) efforts with 31 points and 12 rebounds as she continued to prove why she’s arguably the best post player in the NAIA.
“Amber was awesome. Her teammates got her the ball and she was almost unstoppable under the basket,” said Hardeman.
Led by Williams’ 12 boards, and Jasmyn Reed’s 10 rebounds off the bench, the Cougars out-rebounded Montana Tech 50-34 in a game that saw an energized Azusa Pacific wear down the Orediggers throughout the second half.
“Jasmyn did a great job and we had a lot of people hitting the boards…that’s key for us,” said Hardeman.
Rebecca Roehrkasse had a strong performance, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Madalene Barrett tallied nine points and nine rebounds.
Briana Hall found her teammates for seven assists and scored nine points (all 3-pointers), and Amanda Sims hit another three treys to register 11 points.
The Cougars led by as many as 22 in the game, but the contest was anything but a blowout. Azusa Pacific led by just seven at the half, holding a 42-35 edge after having a 20-12 advantage in points in the paint in the opening 20 minutes.
Leading 49-44 with 15:27 left to play the Cougars went on a 23-9 run in a spanned 10 minutes to seal the win.
Azusa Pacific will play its third and last game at the Holiday Classic with a matchup against College of the Ozarks (Mo.) on Friday at 3 p.m. at Hope International before welcoming GSAC rival Biola to the Felix Event Center for a 5:30 tipoff on Tuesday.