AZUSA, Calif.-- With Kelly Hardeman and Allison Greene sidelined with injuries, Sendy Valles and the Cougar women’s basketball team implemented a balanced offensive attack to improve to 7-0 in Pacific West Conference play with an 80-59 win over Dominican on Tuesday night. The Cougars hit a season-high 12 3-pointers, had four players score in double figures, and tabbed 23 assists on 30 baskets all without the luxury of a duo that’s averaged a combined 31.2 points per game this season.
“We knew we might not be as skilled offensively without Allison and Kelly, but defensively we’re probably a little bit better with the size we were able to put on the floor. We talked about defensive rebounding, and wanted to make sure we did a good job in that area. And then offensively we wanted to be balanced and we needed people to be ready to shoot. Early on we were finding each other, and it helped us get into the flow offensively,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman.
Azusa Pacific did a good job of turning defense into offense, holding a 26-15 edge in points off turnovers. The Cougars also controlled the boards, out-rebounding the Penguins (2-13, 2-6) 45-32 with six players pulling in at least five rebounds. The Cougars held Dominican to 23-60 shooting (38.3 percent), and allowed just one Penguin (Lauren Hyatt; 10 points) to score in double figures.
Offensively Valles paced the Cougars with 20 points, 12 of which came in the first 10 minutes, to help Azusa Pacific build a quick double-digit lead that Dominican was never able to bring back to single digits. Valles hit six 3-pointers, and added six assists and six rebounds.
Freshman forward Maggie Dumphy scored 11 points in her first career start, while the back court of Katie Powell and Sullivan Ziegler combined for 24 points and 11 assists in a game in which Azusa Pacific never trailed. The Cougars shot 47 percent, finishing with a blazing 57.1 percent clip from beyond the arc, and had seven players with at least five points.
“The mark of a good team is having a lot of good players. They don’t always get a chance to prove how good they are, but tonight they showed it. I thought Sullivan had a great game, and for someone who’s been starting at the two all year, I thought she came in and did a good job of running our offense at the point,” said Hardeman. “I thought Maggie did a great job, and she’s such a difference maker on the defensive end, and Annie Fredrickson gave us a really good offensive spark.”
Dumphy had a game-high seven rebounds and tied for a game-high with four steals and two blocks, while Fredrickson finished with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting. Elena Ala scored seven points off the bench and grabbed five rebounds.
The Cougars opened the game in impressive fashion, jumping out to a 10-point on a Ziegler Jumper with 10 minutes left in the first half. Azusa Pacific went ahead by as many as 24 in the opening frame, turning a 25-15 lead with six minutes to go into a 41-17 advantage after a 16-2 run that included baskets from five separate players. The Cougars scored a season-high 43 first half points and led by 20 at the break.
In the second half the Penguins shaved the Azusa Pacific lead to 14 points with 14 minutes remaining, but the Cougars quickly pushed their advantage back to 20+ points, grabbing a 27-point lead with five minutes on the clock before taking control of first place in the conference standings with their seventh straight PacWest victory.
Azusa Pacific leads the PacWest standings with a 7-0 mark, with Academy of Art (7-1), and Hawai’i Pacific (5-2) rounding out the top three. The Cougars will return to action on Friday night when they travel to San Diego for a showdown with Point Loma.