AZUSA, Calif.-- After giving up a season-high 89 points in a road win against Fresno Pacific the NAIA’s 13th ranked Azusa Pacific shifted its focus to defense. The game plan worked as the Cougars forced 24 turnovers and held Concordia to a chilly 30.3 percent clip from the field in an 81-63 win on Saturday night to improve to 7-0 in the Felix Event Center this season.
Briana Hall, fresh off of her career-best 29 point performance, was effective offensively, scoring 16 points while dishing out six assists. But the senior guard was a menace on the defensive end, recording five steals and blocking one shot.
“We need to step up our defense,” said Hall after the game. “I like everyone to feed off of me. It’s my senior year and I need to go all out.”
And the rest of the team did, matching her effort to finish with 15 steals, eight blocks, and 52 rebounds.
“We felt like against Fresno we executed very well offensively. Tonight I thought we played well on the defensive end,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman. “I felt like we didn’t give them a ton of open looks. It was nice to see everyone play hard.”
And it was a total team effort as 13 Cougars notched minutes while 11 of them scored in the game. Amber Williams led all players with 18 points and 13 rebounds in an otherwise modest night for the senior center.
Hannah Kenny continued to play well, filling up the stat sheet with seven points, seven rebounds, two blocks, two steals, and two assists in just 13 minutes. Rebecca Roehrkasse bounced back from her poor performance on Tuesday with 12 points and four boards.
“It was nice to see the different contributions from different players. Rebecca came back and played hard and Hannah played well again,” said Hardeman.
In the opening half Concordia (6-7, 3-3) hit just nine of its 32 shots to finish with an abysmal 28.1 shooting percentage. However, it was the Cougars who started the game ice cold.
Through five minutes Azusa Pacific was just one-of-11 from the floor, and the poor shooting continued when Hall missed a running jumper followed by a Williams miss in the paint. But Roehrkasse snared Williams’ errant shot and converted the put back, plus the foul. From that point on Azusa Pacific lifted its shooting from 7.6 percent to 44.1 after making 14 of the next 21 shots in the opening half to build a 41-27 lead going into the break.
In the second half the Eagles were simply overpowered inside as the Cougars outscored Concordia 46-20 in the paint. Azusa Pacific built its lead to as many as 30 at the 7:24 mark, but a few late 3-pointers from Melody Chavez made the game appear closer than it really was with a final of 81-63 in favor of the Cougars.
“Playing my sister was weird; I haven’t ever played against her,” said Reed. “I gave her a run for her money. She got me once and that’s okay. It’s a sibling rivalry and [it was fun] to have all our family in the stands.”
Azusa Pacific extended its winning streak over the Eagles to 13, as the Cougars now hold an all-time edge in the series at 36-19. Azusa Pacific is now 3-0 at home against GSAC opponents, but just 1-2 on the road. The Cougars will try to balance their road record on Tuesday with a game at Point Loma Nazarene.