(AZUSA, Calif.) – Three-time All-GSAC Erin Kellar had a game-high 19 points to lead 4 Crusader’s in double-figures as Point Loma Nazarene rolled to a 78-64 win over Azusa Pacific in the Cougars’ Golden State Athletic Conference opener tonight in the Felix Event Center.
The loss keeps the Cougars (0-7, 0-1) still searching for their first win of the 2002 campaign. While the NAIA’s No. 22-ranked Crusaders improve to 6-1, 2-0.
The Crusaders blitzed the Cougars from the get-go and led wire-to-wire, hit 8 of their first 10 shots to open up an 18-4 lead just 5 minutes into the game. PLNU led 28-15 at the 8:27 mark when the Cougars arose from their doldrums and ran off a 17-6 run to climb with 2 at the intermission.
However, coming out of the locker room, the Crusaders used a 9-2 run to take an 11-point lead (45-34) and complete control just 3:22 in the second half. Azusa Pacific scored the next 5 points on a 3-pointer from Candis Regan and jumper by Kelsey Hudson to momentarily stem the tied and cut the deficit to 6 (45-39), but the Crusaders answered with a 15-4 run sparked by 6 consecutive points from Jessica Mercado to take a 17-point lead (60-43) with 9:10 to play.
The Crusaders pushed the lead to 23 (71-48) with 3:42 to play before a mild Cougar run closed the gap to 10. They got no closer.
Again, the Cougars were their own worst enemy as they committed 32 turnovers.
Charity Williams and Mercado added 13 points for the Crusaders, and Kelsi Sousa, who hit 7-of-8 free throws to ice the game, finished with 11.
Lindsey West (13 points and 10 rebounds) and Hudson (13 points and 11 rebounds) led the offensive charge for the Cougars. Regan added 11 points, including a pair of treys, off the bench, and Jaclyn Rice chipped in with 10.