AZUSA, Calif.-- For the second time in as many meetings, the Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team used a late surge to upend Dixie State, bouncing back from its first Pacific West Conference loss with a 74-69 victory over the Red Storm in the Felix Event Center on Monday night.
After trailing by four points with 3:39 to play junior point guard Allison Greene helped the Cougars close on a 12-3 run, scoring 11 points down the stretch. Greene nailed all eight of her free throws in that span, and drained a go-ahead 3-pointer to give Azusa Pacific a 67-66 lead with 1:43 on the clock. The Beaverton, Ore. native also came up with a crucial steal in the waning minutes, and tied the program-record with a perfect night from the free throw line (12-12) to finish with a team-high 23 points.
“Allison was money down the stretch. All game long she was doing such a great job of penetrating and finding the open player or getting fouled. She’s so hard to stay in front of that it makes it really tough on the defender,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman. “She’s such a savvy ballplayer. She anticipates where they want to go, and knows how to defend it. I thought her performance on both ends really gave us the boost we needed against a very tough team.”
The Cougars, who dropped their first PacWest game to Point Loma on Friday night, led by 11 at the break before the Red Storm (7-9, 5-5) used an 11-2 run midway through the second half to tie the score at 53-53. Kaylah Miller, who broke the Red Storm’s single-game record for 3-pointers, went 8-of-15 from beyond the arc and gave Dixie State its first lead of the second half on a free throw to make it a 54-53 game.
Over the next five minutes the teams traded baskets before Dixie State scored four unanswered to go ahead 66-62. On the ensuing possession Greene went 2-for-2 from the line, and after Elena Ala secured an offensive rebound, hit a triple from the top of the key to give Azusa Pacific a 67-66 lead.
An Ala free throw pushed the Cougars ahead 68-66 before two more Greene free throws made it a two possession game at 70-66. On the Red Storm’s next possession Maggie Dumphy deflected a pass and Greene scooped it up before Dixie State again sent her to the line, where she hit two more free throws.
Miller was then fouled on a 3-pointer, and went 3-for-3 from the line to cut Azusa Pacific’s advantage to 72-69, but Greene sealed the Cougars’ eighth PacWest win with two more free throws to close out perfect night from the stripe and clinch a 74-69 victory.
The Cougars forced four Dixie State turnovers in the final two minutes of action, and caused 20 throughout the night. Three Cougars tabbed three or more steals, with Greene recording a game-high four off the bench.
Azusa Pacific went a combined 26-33 from the free throw line, while Dixie State posted a 75 percent clip (15-20) from the line. The Cougars shot just 39.3 percent from the field in the game (22-56), and had just two double-figure scorers. Sendy Valles tallied 18 points, 14 of which came in the opening half as the Cougars closed the first frame on 15-6 run to take 45-34 lead into the break. Valles also added five rebounds and three assists.
Sophomore forward Lauren Gilster finished with nine points and two rebounds, while Ala added seven points, three steals, two assists, and four rebounds. Dumphy continued to impress on the defensive end, registering a game-high three blocks and three steals to go with six rebounds and six points.
Sullivan Ziegler dished out a team-high five assists, and scored four points with four rebounds, while Katie Powell tallied four points, two rebounds, and one assist.
Miller, who set the Dixie State record with eight 3-pointers, went 0-12 from deep in the Red Storm’s loss to California Baptist on Saturday, and went 0-7 from 3-point range against Azusa Pacific on Jan. 11.
Azusa Pacific, which remains atop the PacWest standings, will face California Baptist on Friday night in the Felix Event Center for a 5:30 tip. The Cougars lost all three meetings to the Lancers last season, and have lost 5-of-6 in the series dating back to 2010.