BELLINGHAM, Wash.-- When you’re playing the 14th ranked team in NCAA Division II, you have to shoot well to have a chance. Unfortunately the Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team picked a bad night to have one its worst collective shooting games in recent memory, posting a 14.3 percent clip from the floor in the second half to fall to Western Washington 73-49 in the second game of the West Region Crossover Classic.
Azusa Pacific went just 15-57 from the field, and drained only four field goals (all 3-pointers) in the second half to finish 26.3 percent from the field, falling to 0-2 on the young season. But even with the Cougars’ struggles from the floor they held a 16-13 lead seven minutes into the first half, and were within striking distance at 46-40 with 12 minutes to play. The Vikings (1-0), however, utilized a 16-2 run over the next seven minutes, holding Azusa Pacific without a field goal in that span to come away with a win in their season opener.
“There were a lot of positives. I don’t think the score was indicative of how close the game was. We just needed to shoot better. We had pretty good shots, but we just couldn’t knock them down,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman. “We played really hard for all 40 minutes. They’re a tough team and they’re at a level that we want to be at. We’ve been there before and we’ll be there again, but it was good for our young team to come out and play in a game like that. I’m happy with our effort, and when you’re playing a team like that on their floor that’s all you can ask for.”
Azusa Pacific’s shooting woes trickled down to the free throw line, where they went 11-23. The team did, however, manage to shoot relatively well from beyond the arc, going 8-22 from deep. Freshman forward Kelly Hardeman led the Cougars in scoring for the second straight game, putting up 14 points on four treys and a pair of free throws. Through two games Hardeman has buried 10 of the team’s 17 3-pointers.
Junior Hannah Kenny was again the only Azusa Pacific player to reach double figures, scoring 12 points to go with a game-high eight rebounds, six of which were on the offensive end against a lengthy Viking front court. Sullivan Ziegler had a game-high four steals and a team-high four assists, while sophomore guard Katie Powell added eight points off the bench.
Western Washington’s Sydney Donaldson led all scorers with a career-high 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting, while center Britt Harris chipped in with 14 points and five assists.
Azusa Pacific jumped out to an early four-point lead after a layup from Ziegler, a triple from Hardeman and a free throw and a layup from Kenny. But the Vikings responded with a 6-0 run over the next two minutes. At the 12:56 mark the Cougars took their third lead of the night on a triple from Tianna Jones to make it 16-13.
Over the next two minutes Western Washington streaked to a 26-16 edge with a 13-0 run and never relinquished the lead after that. Azusa Pacific cut the deficit to as little as five before going into the break trailing 37-30. In the second half the Cougars got to within 46-40 on a 3-pointer from Powell, but another WWU run put away any thought of an upset. The Vikings scored 16 of the next 18 points before winning 73-49.
Azusa Pacific returns to the floor tomorrow night against Seattle Pacific (Wash.) in game-four of the Crossover Classic.