AZUSA, Calif.-- In a game that featured the GSAC’s top-two scoring teams, neither squad looked sharp as the NAIA’s No. 13 ranked Azusa Pacific escaped with a 62-61 win over Fresno Pacific on Tuesday night. The Sunbirds’ Jenay Herring scored a game-high 27 points, and nearly won it for Fresno Pacific (13-12, 5-8) as time expired, but her driving layup attempt fell off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Both teams looked far from effective on the offensive end as the Cougars finished with a 36.7 percent (22-of-60) clip from the floor, while the Sunbirds were almost as woeful with a 37.1 shooting percentage and 21 turnovers.
The Cougars, who looked disinterested at times, had only two players reach double-digits. Amber Williams finished with a team-high 21 points, but it took 20 shots to get there. The senior center also had 13 rebounds and four steals in the game. Briana Hall scored 18, and had four rebounds and four assists, but also committed seven turnovers. The Cougars gave up the ball 19 times on the night, with none more costly than when Hall coughed it up to Keri Stephanoff with 29 seconds to play and Azusa Pacific leading by just three points at 62-59.
After getting the steal Stephanoff sprinted down the court for an open layup, but Katie Powell fouled her on the play and sent her to the line. She hit both free throws to make it a one-point game (62-61) with 24 seconds to play, prompting head coach T.J. Hardeman to call timeout.
Off the out of bounds play Azusa Pacific was able to run 17 seconds off of the clock with a hot-potato style keep-away from the Sunbirds before Amanda Sims was finally fouled, sending her to the line for a 1-and-1 with seven seconds to go. Sims, however, missed the front end, giving Fresno Pacific possession and a chance to hand Azusa Pacific its first home loss of the season. With the length of the court to go the Sunbirds got the ball to Herring at half court. From there the sophomore drove towards the right side of the key and put up a scooping layup in traffic, but the ball bounced off of the iron as the clock hit zero.
The result, however, could have been much different if not for a vital mistake by Fresno Pacific following a timeout with 6:48 to play. As the Cougars were holding onto a two-point lead the Sunbirds accidentally sent just four players onto the court, leaving Katie Powell wide open to nail a three-pointer to extend its lead to a game high five points at 56-51. The trey was one of only three Azusa Pacific made all night as the offense continually went inside against the smaller Sunbird lineup. The Cougars held a 36-18 scoring advantage in the paint and posted a 44-38 rebound margin in the game.
Sims had a season-high eight rebounds, while Maddy Barrett pulled down five rebounds to go with her four steals. Rebecca Roehrkasse scored six points, registered two blocks and had one steal. The win was Azusa Pacific’s 19th straight regular season victory at home dating back to last season.