LA JOLLA, Calif.-- The Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team was within striking distance all night, but UC San Diego used late free throws to hold on for a narrow 52-50 win over the Cougars in the final game of the UCSD Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday night.
Sullivan Ziegler drained a 3-pointer with two minutes left on the clock to tie the game at 48-48 , giving Azusa Pacific (2-3) it’s fourth tie of the second half. The Tritons then hit two free throws before Azusa Pacific turned it over and missed a game-tying shot following another UCSD free throw with 11 seconds left in regulation. UCSD (4-1) then pushed its lead to four on another free throw before an Allison Greene layup cut it to 52-50 in the waning seconds. The Cougars, however, never regained possession as the Tritons held on for their second consecutive one-possession win in as many nights.
One game removed from holding Cal State San Bernardino to below 25 percent shooting, the Azusa Pacific defense again limited its opponent to a sub-30 percent clip. UCSD shot just 28.1 percent in the game, and hit only six of 27 looks from 3-point range. The Tritons, however, got to the line 15 more times than the Cougars, recording eight more points from the charity stripe to come away with their second win of the weekend.
Azusa Pacific led three times on the night, and held a 38-37 lead after a pair of Annie Fredrickson free throws with 6:49 to play. UCSD responded with a jumper and two treys to retake the lead, going ahead by as many as five points twice in the final five minutes of the game. The Cougars knotted the score at 48-48 on Ziegler’s triple, but the Tritons closed the game with four free throws to secure their second victory over Azusa Pacific in the past two seasons.
Kelly Hardeman, who was named to the All-Tournament team, scored a game-high 15 points in another defensive showdown. She drained a game-high three 3-pointers, and pulled in seven rebounds in 35 minutes of play. Greene, the Cougars’ second All-Tournament performer, scored 12 points in the loss, adding a team-high eight rebounds and five assists, while freshman forward Maggie Dumphy tallied four steals, six rebounds, and eight points; tabbing five of the team’s seven free throws (4-5).
The Cougars were out rebounded 52-38, and gave up 22 offensive rebounds for the second straight night, leading to a 21-10 advantage in second chance points. Azusa Pacific dominated the inside scoring in the second half, registering a 14-6 advantage over the final 20 minutes of play.
Azusa Pacific, which has lost three games by less than 10 points apiece, will open Pacific West Conference play on Thursday night when the Cougars trek to San Rafael for a Thursday night tilt with Dominican. Azusa Pacific will then play its second straight road PacWest game on Saturday at Notre Dame de Namur before returning home against Fresno Pacific on Dec. 16.