LA JOLLA, Calif.-- The early road hasn’t been easy for the Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team. The Cougars opened up the year at a Cal State L.A. team that was picked to finish second in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. They then traveled to the Pacific Northwest to play NCAA Division II No. 9 ranked Western Washington and Seattle Pacific. They lost all three games, including a difficult overtime loss to Seattle Pacific.
On Friday night that challenge continued as Azusa Pacific took on a UC San Diego team that was ranked No. 8 in the NCAA preseason poll in game two of the Triton Thanksgiving Classic, falling 79-48 for the team’s fourth straight loss. Hannah Kenny was one of the Cougars’ few highlights, scoring in double digits for the fourth straight game to finish with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Kenny pulled in eight rebounds and added two steals and two assists, but the Cougars couldn’t stop a hot-shooting Triton team that went to the NCAA Division II Sweet 16 a year ago. The junior forward now leads Azusa Pacific in points and rebounds, averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds while boasting an impressive .571 shooting percentage.
UC San Diego finished with a 50.9 percent clip from the field, and drained 10-of-17 3-point shots to collect its first home win of the season. Azusa Pacific shot just 36 percent from the field (18-50), and was out-rebounded 39-27 as UC San Diego improved to 2-4 this season.
The Tritons had three players finish in double-digits, with Emily Osga leading the way with 21 points and six rebounds. Daisy Feder added 19 points and five boards, while Erin Dautremont totaled 13 points.
Amanda Sims and Sullivan Ziegler each tallied eight points, with Ziegler dishing out three assists. Sims made of one the Cougars’ only two treys in the game as they went only 2-of-16 from behind the arc, good for a 12.5 percent mark.
The Tritons took control of the contest early on after the Cougars trailed 5-4 two minutes after the opening tip. UCSD went on a 14-4 run over a four-minute span to take a double-digit lead that Azusa Pacific never recovered from. Lauren Gilster’s layup at the 11:25 mark made it a 22-12 game, but after a pair of Triton free throws the Cougars never got back to within 10 points as UCSD went into the break with a 43-21 lead.
In the second half UCSD never led by fewer than 20, and ended the game with its biggest edge of the night, defeating the Cougars by 31 points for the teams’ most lopsided loss since head coach T.J. Hardeman’s second season in 2008-09 when Azusa Pacific lost to perennial NAIA power Union (Tenn.) 97-61.
The Cougars will face Cal State San Bernardino (1-1) on Saturday at 5 p.m. in game three of the Thanksgiving Classic.