FRESNO, Calif.-- Over the past two games the Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team got used to coming from behind. On Saturday, the Cougars took a different route to win their sixth straight Pacific West basketball game, defeating Fresno Pacific 74-59 after leading from start to finish.
Azusa Pacific led by as many as 17 points, and never saw its second half lead drop below seven, thanks in large part to strong shooting and a balanced scoring effort. Four Cougars finished in double figures, with freshman forward Kelly Hardeman registering a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. Azusa Pacific shot nearly 50 percent from the floor, recording a 48.9 percent clip (23-for-47), and held the Sunbirds (4-17, 4-10 PWC) to 32.2 percent shooting.
Hannah Kenny tabbed her third straight 20-point performance, tallying 20 points and nine rebounds before fouling out. Amanda Sims broke out of her offensive funk, notching 18 points, three assists, and six rebounds to help the Cougars improve to 12-4 over its last 16 games. Sullivan Ziegler rounded up Azusa Pacific’s double-digit scorers, posting 10 points after going to the line nine times and sinking eight free throws.
Only two Fresno Pacific players finished with more 10 or more points, led by Keairra White’s 21 point effort, which took 23 shots to get to. Charde Stevens recorded 10 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, which accounted for one third of the Sunbirds’ 30 boards. Azusa Pacific outrebounded the Sunbirds 38-30, but managed only six offensive rebounds after being especially effective on the offensive glass in its previous four games.
Azusa Pacific took a 26-10 lead early in the first half after going on a 17-2 run over eight minutes of play. Azusa Pacific soon extended its edge to as much as 17 on a 3-pointer from Sims with 1:30 remaining in the opening half before the Sunbirds closed the frame with eight straight points. Azusa Pacific nailed 4-of-6 shots from beyond the arc, while Kenny had a game-high 13 points after 20 minutes of action. The Cougars recorded 20 first half rebounds, but didn’t grab one on the offensive end despite averaging 16 offensive rebounds a game entering Saturday.
The Sunbirds opened the first half with a bucket to get within seven points, but Azusa Pacific quickly responded with eight straight points thanks to a pair of Kenny free throws and two treys from Sims. The Cougars held a double-digit lead until Fresno Pacific cut it to seven again with three straight free throws from White with 4:20 left to make it a 62-55 game. Azusa Pacific then scored 12 of the final 16 points to post the 74-59 victory.
Maddy Barrett scored eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, adding three assists and five rebounds, while Calli Jackson chipped in with five points off the bench. The win keeps Azusa Pacific within two games of first place in the PacWest standings before the Cougars embark on a four game Hawai’i road trip. Azusa Pacific opens up the Island trip against second place Hawai’i Pacific next Saturday.