LAIE, Hawai’i-- In a game of runs, the Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team opened its three-game Hawaiian set with an 86-71 win over BYU-Hawaii on Thursday night, albeit playing in the Seasiders’ road jerseys.
After having their bags stolen from their vans while eating lunch, the Cougars were left without their uniforms, and some without their shoes heading into Thursday night’s tilt against the Seasiders. But BYU-Hawaii graciously let Azusa Pacific borrow its road jerseys, and as the Cougars pieced together full uniforms, with some players borrowing shoes from the men’s team, the game tipped off as scheduled.
“We were just eating our lunch near Pipeline and when we get to our vans, the bags were cleaned out. It’s always tough to play when you have distractions like that, so I’m glad we were able to pull out the win. We’re extremely grateful to BYU-Hawaii for their hospitality and willingness to help us. It was a unique situation and they did us a huge favor.” said head coach T.J. Hardeman.
“Once we started playing things got back to normal. But it seemed like we’d go on a run, and then lose interest, and they’d go on a run. It was sort of back and forth all night. We played in lala land at times, but in a game like that, with those circumstances, it’s somewhat understandable. I’m just happy we were able to have enough focus to get the win.”
The Cougars used a 12-2 run to take a 10-point lead into the break before the Seasiders scored the first 11 points of the second half to grab a 40-39 advantage. The Cougars, however, went on a 16-3 run, which included eight straight points after trailing by one, to go back ahead by double digits, and after BYU-Hawaii (2-10, 2-15) got to within five points, used a 12-2 spurt to record their 10th Pacific West Conference win of the season.
The Cougars (12-5, 10-1) had three players finish in double digits, with Sendy Valles leading all Cougars with 19 points. Valles nearly posted a double-double with nine rebounds, while adding three assists and three steals in a game in which both teams struggled to control possession. The Cougars and Seasiders combined to commit 50 turnovers, leading to 23 points for each team. Katie Powell recorded a team-high four steals, and added nine points and two rebounds.
Azusa Pacific dominated the boards, out-rebounding BYU-Hawaii 43-28 to tab a 21-3 advantage in second chance points. The Cougars tallied 19 offensive rebounds, with So. F Kelly Hardeman pulling in a team-high six.
Hardeman finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, and buried three of her six shots from beyond the arc. Allison Greene orchestrated a Cougar offense that posted a season-high 86 points, logging six assists and 14 points. Eight Cougars had five or more points in the victory.
Sullivan Ziegler scored eight points and pulled in five rebounds, while Maggie Dumphy had six points and six rebounds. Elena Ala finished with five points and four rebounds.
In the first half the Cougars turned a 9-7 lead into a 21-9 advantage with just under nine minutes to play in the opening frame. In the stretch Valles scored seven points, with Powell chipping in with a 3-pointer, and Ala closing the run with a jumper in the lane.
Azusa Pacific eventually took a 15-point edge twice, leading 31-16 on a Dumphy basket, and 33-18 on a Gilster layup. BYU-Hawaii cut the deficit to 10 points with a 6-1 spurt before the Cougars took a 39-29 lead into the break.
After trailing 39-29 at the half, BYU-Hawaii closed the gap and took a brief lead with a furious run, scoring 11 straight points to go ahead 40-39 at the first media timeout. An 8-0 run put the Cougars back ahead, and after a 16-3 stretch the Cougars pushed their lead to 56-44 with 10 minutes left in the game.
Later in the half the Seasiders got to within two points thanks to a 13-2 run, but Hardeman ended the spree with her second triple of the night to make it a 67-62 game with 4:01 to play before a Valles jumper pushed the Cougars back ahead by seven. The Cougars outscored BYU-Hawaii 12-1 over the next two minutes to put the Seasiders away, improving to 10-1 in Pacific West Conference play with an 86-71 win.
The Cougars will continue their Hawaiian trip on Saturday night when they take on Hawai’i Pacific in Honolulu at 4:30 (HAST).