AZUSA, Calif.-- Behind another strong defensive effort and an impressive performance from junior guard Allison Greene, the Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team improved to 5-0 in the Pacific West Conference with an 81-66 win over Notre Dame de Namur on Monday night in the Felix Event Center. Greene scored 15 of her 22 points in the second half as the Cougars went ahead by as many as 26 points with five minutes to play as they tabbed their first 5-0 conference start since 2007.
The Cougars forced 22 turnovers, parlaying those giveaways into 34 points. Azusa Pacific also limited the Argonauts to an 18-of-58 (31 percent) clip from the floor to hand the Argonauts their fifth straight PacWest loss dating back to the Cougars’ come-from-behind 63-60 overtime win over NDNU on Dec. 7 in Belmont.
“We had a lot more energy tonight compared to the last time we played them. We pressed for most of the game, and wanted them to pass the ball as often as possible. We wanted them to take chances against our zone so we could generate turnovers and we did a really good job with that,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman.
The Argonauts had just one starter shoot better than 50 percent from the floor, and only two NDNU players scored in double figures. Four Azusa Pacific players registered multiple steals in the game with Greene tallying a game-high five steals. The Beaverton, Ore. product also excelled on the offensive end, leading the Cougars in points (22) and assists (five) on 7-of-10 shooting.
Azusa Pacific had three players scored in double-digits, with Greene, Sendy Valles, and Kelly Hardeman nearly outscoring NDNU on their own with a combined 60 points.
“It was nice to see Allison play so well tonight. She did a great job in multiple areas. She had steals, assists, and was our second leading rebounder. She’s so talented that she can do that on any given night,” said Hardeman. “I was also pleased with Kelly and Sendy. They both had really strong games, and with Allison, that’s our three headed monster. When they’re going it’s very hard to beat us.”
Hardeman followed up her 19-point 15-rebound performance with 17 points and six boards. Valles tallied 21 points, and led all Cougars with eight rebounds. The rest of the Cougar offense did a good job finding the open player, with 28 of the Azusa Pacific field goals coming off assists. Five players recorded two or more assists in the win, with Valles, Sullivan Ziegler, and Katie Powell each finishing with three.
Azusa Pacific seemed to be in control early on, turning an 11-9 lead into a 26-12 advantage behind four consecutive 3-pointers, capped by a Valles and-1 with 8:16 remaining in the opening frame. In the spurt Hardeman knocked down two treys, with Powell and Greene providing the other two triples.
The Argonauts, however, went on a run of their own, scoring on three of the next four possessions in an 11-2 stretch with 5:09 left in the first. The two teams then traded baskets before the Cougars went into the half with a 41-30 lead.
Ziegler hit a jumper on the first possession of the second half, and Annie Fredrickson followed that up with a layup to push the Cougars back ahead by 15. NDNU cut the deficit to 12 points with 11:08 left before the Cougars used a 15-2 run with all 15 points coming from Greene, Valles, and Hardeman to take a 71-46 lead and the Argonauts never got back within striking distance as Azusa Pacific moved into a tie for first place with the reigning PacWest tournament champions, Academy of Art.
The Cougars will return to action on Saturday when they travel to St. George for a 5 p.m. (MST) matchup with Dixie State. Azusa Pacific went 2-0 against the Red Storm in the program’s first season in the PacWest.