LOS ANGELES, Calif.-- It was an impressive finish, but unfortunately for the Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team it was simply a case of too little too late. The Cougars trailed by 14 points with two minutes to play before closing the game on an 18-8 run, cutting the deficit to a single possession before Cal State L.A. held on for a 67-63 win on Saturday afternoon.
Trailing 59-45 with 2:05 to play, Kelly Hardeman nailed a 3-pointer, and after a pair of Eagle free throws Allison Greene took a Sullivan Ziegler pass and drained a trey to make it a 10-point game with 1:25 to go. Another Hardeman 3-pointer cut the score to 61-54 with 1:08 to play, and after a Hardeman layup, three Eagle free throws, and a Maggie Dumphy layup Azusa Pacific trailed 64-58.
Another CSULA free throw pushed it to 65-58, before Katie Powell hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 65-61 with 18 seconds to play. The Eagles went to the line again, hitting one free throw, and on the ensuing possession Greene scored a layup to make it 66-63 with seven seconds on the clock. Azusa Pacific’s late run, however, came up just short as Cal State L.A. hit a free throw with five seconds to go to seal the win.
The Cougars shot just 31.7 percent from the floor and trailed for the majority of the day as the Eagles (6-2) overcame a 48-34 Azusa Pacific rebounding edge to post their second consecutive victory over the Cougars.
Sophomore forward Hardeman had a team-high 17 points and 15 rebounds, while Greene was the only other Cougar to score in double-digits, finishing with 16 points on 4-9 shooting. The Eagles had four players with nine or more points, led by D. La Fountain’s 12-point, 17-rebound effort.
Cal State L.A. shot 43.4 percent from the field (23-53), while the Cougars generated 10 more shots thanks to a 23-9 advantage in offensive rebounding. Azusa Pacific shot 22 times from beyond the arc, making only six triples, with Hardeman tallying a team-high three triples. Powell went 2-for-4 from deep, while Lisha Elsenbach made her only attempt from 3-point range.
Azusa Pacific opened up an early lead in the first half, going ahead 6-3 on a Hardeman jumper. But the Cougar offense soon stalled as an 8-0 Eagle run pushed Cal State L.A. to an 11-6 advantage, earsing the Cougars’ only lead of the day. The Cougars responded to score five of the next seven points to get within 13-11 before the Eagles took their biggest lead of the opening frame at 28-20.
Azusa Pacific shot just 24.1 percent in the first half, with Hardeman tabbing team-highs with nine points and seven rebounds through 20 minutes of action as the Cougars trailed by just four despite struggling to make baskets.
The Eagles continued their run to open the second half, turning a 28-24 score into a 35-24 lead. Cal State L.A. opened up its biggest lead on a Paige Melville 3-pointer to make it a 46-32 game. The Eagles pushed their lead to 59-45 before the Cougars’ late run gave CSULA a scare.
The Cougars, now finished with non-conference play, will face Holy Names in a Pacific West Conference tilt on Jan. 4 before a Jan. 6 game against Notre Dame de Namur in the Felix Event Center.