AZUSA, Calif.-- The Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team held BYU-Hawaii to 23 percent shooting, and used a 22-0 run over an 11 minute span in the first half to post their largest margin of victory this year in a 76-40 win on Thursday night.
Azusa Pacific, which led by as many as 39 in the game, used its size to outscore the Seasiders (2-19, 2-14) 40-4 in the point, and out-rebound BYU-Hawaii 51-31 to bounce back from a 54-46 loss to California Baptist on Saturday.
Annie Fredrickson and the rest of the Cougar frontcourt dominated the Seasiders, with Fredrickson leading the way with a 10-point, six-rebound effort in 20 minutes of action. Fredrickson overpowered the Seasiders in the post, shooting 5-of-6 from the field to tab a career-high in points.
“We talked about establishing the inside. Annie did very well, Lauren Gilster did a good job posting, and everyone that went in did a good job. We want to establish ourselves inside every game, and tonight I thought we were very successful,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman.
Sendy Valles tied for a game-high with 13 points, and added six rebounds, while Maggie Dumphy blocked two shots in an eight-point effort.
The Azusa Pacific defense held the Seasiders to 13-of-56 shooting, which included a 5-of-31 clip from inside the 3-point line. Outside of Danna Lynn Hopper and Bry Tatupu-Leopoldo, who combined for 25 points, the Seasiders shot 4-for-30 in the game, combining for only 15 points thanks to Azusa Pacific’s suffocating defense.
The Cougars’ full-court press forced 27 turnovers, which led to an 18-7 advantage in points off turnovers. Valles had a team-high four steals, and four other Azusa Pacific players registered two or more steals.
“We’ve been working all year to keep a hand up on shooters. We did a good job ensuring that we didn’t let any one player beat us, even though at one point Tatupu-Leopoldo had 18 of their 24 points. We’ve been working all year at being a great defensive team, and with the effort we had tonight, we’re tough to face,” said Hardeman.
The Cougars also showcased their depth in the win, with 10 different players scoring to help give Azusa Pacific a 41-2 edge in bench points. Katie Powell scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, and Lisha Elsenbach added eight points. Elena Ala pulled in five rebounds to go with five points, three assists, and two steals off the bench. “The energy was great all night, no matter who came in. We knew we’d have a lot of people play tonight, and we did a great job hustling and looking for each other on the floor. Everyone that came in did a good job of understanding their role, and I thought all of our players did a good job of trying to make their teammates look good,” said Hardeman.
BYU-Hawaii opened the game with a 5-0 lead, and after just three minutes of play led 10-4. The Cougars, however, scored 22 straight points with six different players scoring in the span to give Azusa pacific a 26-10 lead with 6:03 to play in the opening half.
The Cougars went into the break with a 34-18 lead, and gave up only one basket from 2-point range. Only two BYU-Hawaii players scored in the first 20 minutes, while seven Cougars got on the board in the opening frame.
In the second half Azusa Pacific used an 18-2 spree to open up a 35-point lead before the Cougars improved to 15-6, 13-12 in Pacific West Conference play with a 76-40 win. The Cougars sit one game back of Academy of Art in the PacWest standings, with only five games left on the regular season docket. The Cougars and Urban Knights will meet in a potential PacWest championship game in San Francisco on Feb. 28.
Before then, however, the Cougars will close out their home schedule with three straight games against Hawai’i Pacific, Hawai’i Hilo, and Point Loma, beginning on Saturday.