PHOENIX, Ariz.-- The Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team shot just 24. 1 percent in a 70-43 loss to No. 18 ranked (NCAA Division II) Grand Canyon (Ariz.) on Monday afternoon. The Cougars, who did their best to overcome a rough first half to trail by just nine points at the break (29-20), were outscored 41-23 over the final 20 minutes to fall to 1-6 on the road this season.
The Antelopes (16-4, 8-1 PWC), whose margin of victory at home was 29.4 points per game entering today, improved to 10-0 in the GCU Arena after out-rebounding Azusa Pacific 51-32 and dominating Azusa Pacific in the paint. Three Grand Canyon players finished in double figures, led by Judy Jones’ 14-point, 14-rebound performance. Hannah Kenny led all Cougars with 13 points. No other player reached double digits.
The ‘Lopes held a 34-15 scoring advantage inside, and gave the Cougars fits on the glass, finishing with 18 offensive rebounds. The GCU defense kept the Cougars below 30 percent shooting for the majority of the game as Azusa Pacific had just one player finish above 50 percent from the field as Lauren Gilster chipped in with six points on 3-of-3 shooting off the bench.
The Cougars’ cold shooting was apparent from the get-go. Azusa Pacific opened the game making just two of its first 12 shots, and adding seven turnovers to trail 14-4 at the 13 minute mark in the first half. After a Kenny free throw Kelly Hardeman ended the drought with a fast break trey from the left side to make it a 17-8 contest.
Minutes later Sullivan Ziegler helped manufacture offense when she turned a steal into a Maddy Barrett lay-in to keep the Cougars within nine points. Four free throws cut the ‘Lopes’ lead to six points (19-13), but GCU responded with four quick points to push the advantage back to 10 (23-13).
Grand Canyon continued its run, making it 27-13 while Azusa Pacific was 4-of-22 from the field. The Cougars, however, closed the strong, scoring seven of the final nine points to go into the half trailing 29-20. Azusa Pacific shot 21.4 percent in the frame, and was out-boarded 26-18. Hardeman and Kenny each had eight points through 20 minutes of play, while no other Cougar had more than two points in the half.
In the second half GCU quickly went up by 17 with, but Amanda Sims hit a pair of free throws and Kenny scored on a layup to keep the game within reach. The Antelopes then slowly took the game out of reach, going up by 18 at the 11-minute mark before making it a 21-point margin on a 3-pointer. Azusa Pacific never got back within 20 points as the ‘Lopes extended their winning streak to five games while moving three games up in the win column atop the Pacific West standings.
Sims logged nine points and three rebounds, while Barrett grabbed a team-high six rebounds in the program’s first-ever meeting with Grand Canyon. Ziegler dished out a game-high eight assists to go with three points and three rebounds.
The loss drops Azusa Pacific to 6-8, 3-3 in conference play. The Cougars will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 26 when they travel to St. George, Utah for a meeting with Dixie State. Azusa Pacific defeated the Red Storm 66-59 in the Felix Event Center earlier this month.