FRESNO, Calif.-- For those that watched last night’s defensively dominated BCS Championship game, where Alabama defeated LSU 21-0, tonight’s GSAC matchup between NAIA No. 13 Azusa Pacific and Fresno Pacific was surely a welcomed sight.
The game, which featured about as much defense as a Washington Generals-Harlem Globetrotters clash, saw both teams combine for 188 points as the Cougars went on to win 99-89 at the Special Events Center in Fresno on Tuesday night.
“It was a wild game. It was probably one of those that’s a lot more fun to watch than it is to coach,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman. “Offensively we executed really well, but we need to get better defensively...and credit to them. They made a lot of deep shots.”
Fresno Pacific buried 12 3-pointers in the game compared to the Cougars’ one (on four attempts), but Azusa Pacific finished the game with a 55.6 percent clip from the floor compared to the Sunbirds’ .420.
Three Azusa Pacific (10-5, 3-2) players recorded career highs in points, led by Amber Williams who notched another double-double with 32 points and 10 rebounds.
Right on her coattails was Briana Hall, who put together a tremendous second half scoring 22 of her 29 career high points to help her team record its first conference road win of the season. The senior also added eight assists and played all but two minutes after being unable to play Saturday’s loss to Vanguard.
“Briana did a great job of handling the ball and Amber did a great job of going to the hole knowing nobody could guard her. When those two are playing like that there isn’t a team in the country we fear,” said Hardeman.
Hannah Kenny more than doubled her previous career best of six points with a 16-point effort on Tuesday night. The sophomore came off the bench and knocked down a series of jumpers inside the key, making six of her eight shots while bringing in three rebounds.
“Hannah was awesome for us tonight,” said Hardeman. “When Amber got in foul trouble she came in and played very well.”
In the first half the Cougars and Sunbirds traded leads and fouls as the refs whistled both squads for 21 fouls. Rebecca Roehrkasse picked up her third foul midway through the first half, forcing her to sit right before Fresno Pacific drained back-to-back triples to take its first lead (31-28) since the opening minute. Then after a Hall score, Kenny gave the Cougars back the lead with a fast break bucket off the glass to make it 33-31.
But the Sunbirds responded with another 3-pointer just before Williams’ overpowered a defender for her 15th point of the game to give Azusa Pacific a 35-34 advantage. The Cougars went into the break up 46-42 without even having attempted a shot from downtown while Fresno Pacific drained seven from behind the arc.
Then in the opening minutes of the second frame it was the Hall show as the guard quickly scored 11 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and combined for 22 second half points on 7-of-11 shooting. Williams scored 13 points in the half, while Kenny added nine.
Fresno Pacific’s Jenay Herring, who had a monster half but was overshadowed by Hall’s and Williams’ performances, had 20 second half points, but they wouldn’t be enough to help her team keep pace with the red-hot Cougars.
Roehrkasse had a quiet night after foul trouble forced her to sit for much of the game. Madalene Barrett grabbed four rebounds and scored seven points and Amanda Sims added six.
The 99 points scored were the most since the Cougars drummed La Sierra 101-49 on Dec. 30, 2010.