AZUSA, Calif.-- Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to an opponent, and that was certainly the case in the Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team’s season-opening overtime loss to Cal Poly Pomona. After tying the game late in regulation the Broncos used a 10-0 run in overtime to hand the Cougars an 84-75 loss on Saturday night.
Cal Poly Pomona hit all five of its shots in overtime, and buried 6-of-7 free throws to outscore Azusa Pacific (0-1) 17-8, and Lauren Goecke, who hadn’t hit a 3-pointer all season, made all four of her shots from deep to post a career-night with 20 points and seven rebounds.
The Cougars fought back from a 37-31 halftime deficit, and quickly took a 40-39 second half lead in a game that was tied nine times and had 14 lead changes. Azusa Pacific led by two with less than a minute to play in regulation before J.J. Judge gave the Broncos a 67-67 tie with 51 seconds to play.
On the ensuing possession sophomore forward Kelly Hardeman rebounded an Allison Greene jumper to insure the Cougars of the final shot, and Azusa Pacific worked it around until Sullivan Ziegler missed on a last-second shot to send the game to overtime.
Ziegler gave Azusa Pacific an early 69-67 overtime lead with a lay in, but Cal Poly Pomona (2-1) countered with 10 straight points, and eventually lead by as many as 12 points before sealing a nine-point victory.
“We haven’t played in a game like that and they have twice already this year. And it showed in overtime. I wish we could have executed a little bit better. You never like to lose, but there are definitely some good things to take away from tonight. We will grow from this expereince, and hopefully next time we’re in a tight game down the stretch we will have some experience to lean on,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman.
“Our game plan was to take away their inside game and have their outside players beat us, and they did. You have to pick your poison a little bit with them because they have a really talented team, both inside and out.”
Greene had an impressive showing in her Cougar debut, scoring game-high 21 points on 9-of-19 shooting. The Portland State transfer also dished out three assists, and tabbed one steal and one block. Hardeman scored 16 points and pulled in six rebounds, while junior forward Sendy Valles posted a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Azusa Pacific shot 42.2 percent (27-64) from the floor, while the Broncos recorded a 47 percent clip in the win. The Cougar bench outscored CPP’s 19-8, highlighted by Elena Ala’s 12-point performance. The sophomore from Diablo Valley College made four of her five shots, and nailed two 3-pointers.
“We had some of our new players step in and play well. Allison went to the hole really well, and Elena played a really good game. We had a lot positives, and we’ll only get better as the season goes on,” said Hardeman.
The Cougars return to action next weekend when they host the West Region Crossover Classic. Azusa Pacific will take on Western Washington and Seattle Pacific in the four-team tournament that features two teams that made the NCAA II tournament last season (UC San Diego and Western Washington).