LA MIRADA, Calif.-- The say in rivalry games the records get thrown out the window, and that saying got a little more weight after an unranked Biola team used a second half surge to get past the reigning NAIA champions, Azusa Pacific, with an emotional 51-49 win on Tuesday night.
With 10 seconds to play and the game tied 49-49 Biola’s Chrrise Reece stole the ball from Briana Hall and went in for an uncontested layup to take the late lead. On the ensuing possession Hall dribbled the length of the court and went up for the would-be tying bucket, but her layup bounced off the back of the iron and time quickly expired thereafter.
Azusa Pacific (15-6), led by as many as nine in the second half but a 10-0 run on five consecutive makes gave the Eagles a five point edge with just 1:13 to play. The Cougars clawed back with a pair of clutch free throws by Hall, followed by another make from the charity stripe by Amber Williams on the front end of a double bonus.
The center missed her second attempt, but the Cougars retained the ball after an excellent box-out by Maddy Barrett kept Biola from controlling the rebound; sending it out underneath the basket. On the in-bounds play Hall found Jasmyn Reed for the game-tying basket with 37 seconds to play. On the Eagles' possession Reese missed a layup and Williams pulled down the board and outletted to Hall, but the senior was soon stripped for the game-winning layup.
The ending was especially unfortunate for Hall, who had been the Cougars’ driving force all night, finishing with 20 points, five assists, and four steals. Outside of Hall, Williams was the only Azusa Pacific player in double digits as the center recorded her 13th double-double of the season. But the Cougars as a whole couldn’t find their rhythm in the final frame, shooting just 4-of-25 from the floor (16 percent) in the second half. Biola shot relatively well over the final 20 minutes, hitting 12-of-30 from the floor.
The Eagles also managed to out-rebound the GSAC’s best rebounding team, grabbing 41 off the glass compared to 37 for Azusa PAcific.
With the loss the Cougars missed out on a chance to move into a tie for second place in the GSAC standings after Westmont waxed Vanguard 73-58, but Azusa Pacific will get another shot at it on Friday when the Lions come to the Felix Event Center for a 5:30 tip.