AZUSA, Calif.-- Amber Williams became the 22nd player in program history to reach the 1,000 point milestone with an 18-point, 16-rebound effort as the NAIA’s No. 13-ranked Azusa Pacific posted a 65-50 win over Point Loma Nazarene on Tuesday night. The senior center reached the mark in a fashion that’s become typical for her as she turned a Cougar miss into a basket midway through the opening half to join teammate Briana Hall in the 1,000 point club.
“I had no clue, so it was a nice surprise,” said Williams. “It means a lot to me, especially after not [being a scorer] over the last three years. It’s exciting to get the opportunity to be a leader, but it’s a team thing. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am.”
Williams, who has already been named the NAIA Player of the Week twice this year, reached the mark following one of her game-high 11 offensive rebounds; something she’s been accustomed to all season as she averages 5.16 offensive boards a night. But even with the accolades her demeanor hasn’t changed.
“She’s the type of player that wouldn’t know she’s near 1,000. She comes out to play and works hard, and she’s done that her whole career,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman. “It’s nice to see her develop. She’s responded well to being a go-to scorer.”
The Cougars, who shot a miserable 22 percent against the Sea Lions in the teams’ first meeting, played better offensively with a modest 37.3 percent clip from the floor to go with 15 assists on 25 shots. Point Loma Nazarene (16-11, 7-8) didn’t shoot much worse (35.7 percent), but couldn’t overcome an 18-rebound disparity that gave Azusa Pacific (19-6, 11-3) an additional 11 shots on the night.
Rebecca Roehrkasse played one of her best games of the season as she scored 15 points on 11 shots, and recorded four steals. But it was her defensive effort that Hardeman was praising afterwards.
“Rebecca played probably her best game this year. She did a good job of hustling and chasing down rebounds. We put her on their best player and she slowed her down after scoring 10 points in the first six minutes,” said Hardeman.
Up top Hall was her usual self,scoring 15 points while dishing out six assists and recording six rebounds to help keep the Cougars alive in the GSAC title chase as both Westmont and Vanguard won tight games.
Despite a close first half Azusa Pacific was able to gradually pull away over the final 20 minutes after snagging a rebound on half of its 24 misses; leading to 10 second chance points in the final frame compared to the Sea Lions' 2. Williams finished with 11 offensive rebounds, more than doubling the combined total for Point Loma Nazarene (5).
The second half also saw the Cougars dominate the inside as Azusa Pacific outscored the Sea Lions 20-6 in the paint to help give the Cougars a 34-23 scoring advantage over the final 20 minutes.
With the win Azusa Pacific remains two games back of GSAC leader Westmont with just three regular season contests left; including one with the Warriors on February 25.