WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Azusa Pacific couldn’t find a way to snap out of a shooting slump, as the Cougars were held to a season-low 36 points in a 56-36 loss to second-seeded Union (Tenn.) in the semifinals of the National Christian College Athletic Association National Championship.
Sophomore forward Kelly Hardeman knocked down a three-pointer with 7:46 left in the first half to give Azusa Pacific a 13-11 lead, but the Cougars scored just one point the rest of the half and went over 12 minutes of game time without a field goal. Freshman center Maggie Dumphy snapped the field goal drought with 15:32 to play in the game, but by that time Union led by double digits.
The Dumphy basket cut the lead to 29-17, but nearly six more minutes passed before Azusa Pacific hit another field goal, which came from junior guard Allison Greene with 9:42 remaining. Luckily for the Cougars, Union didn’t shoot much better, and the Cougars remained within striking distance when junior guard Katie Powell and Hardeman scored on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to 14 points, 38-24, with 8:20 to play.
Greene hit a three-pointer, just the second of the game for the Cougars, with 3:51 left, and she hit one-of-two free throws with 2:30 remaining to cut the lead to a dozen points, 48-36. Union, which had opened the second half with a 13-4 run, finished the game with an 8-0 burst for the 20-point final margin.
Azusa Pacific hit 13-of-53 shots (25 percent) and made just two-of-16 three-pointers. The Cougars also struggled at the free throw line, hitting eight-of-17 for a .471 free throw percentage. Union was only slightly better, hitting 30 percent (17-for-56) from the field including a 21 percent (eight-for-38) clip from three-point range.
Union’s Amy Philamlee led all scorers with 17 points, and Greene was the Cougars’ leading scorer with a 13-point effort while adding three assists seven rebounds, and four steals. Hardeman finished with nine points and seven rebounds, and junior forward Sendy Valles added six points to go with a team-high 10 rebounds.
Before Thursday’s matchup, the last time Azusa Pacific and Union met in women’s basketball was the 2011 NAIA national championship game, when the Cougars claimed the program’s only national title with a 65-59 win over the Bulldogs in Jackson, Tenn.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific drops to 20-9 overall. The Cougars will wrap up the 2014 season with a 10 a.m. (Eastern time) Saturday morning matchup against Roberts Wesleyan in the NCCAA third-place game.