Evangel (Mo.) 51
Azusa Pacific 49
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Junior Nicolette Dresback finished with game-highs of 14 points, 7 assists and 5 steals, but her effort went for naught as Azusa Pacific’s late-game rally fell just short in a 51-49 loss to NAIA Division II Evangel (Mo.) in the opening round of the Cal Baptist Christmas Classic in Riverside.
Trailing 48-41, the Cougars limited Evangel to just 3 points in the final 6 and a half minutes, but the Crusaders had just enough to hold off Azusa Pacific. The Cougars scored a pair of baskets six seconds apart to cut the lead to 51-49 with 37 seconds to play but were unable to score a game-tying bucket on 3 separate possessions in the final seconds.
Both teams were plagued by turnovers, combining for 33 turnovers in the first half alone, with Azusa Pacific accounting for 20 in the first half. The teams turned the ball over 13 times apiece in the second half. The Cougars were also plagued by 32 percent (6-for-19) free throw shooting, including a 13 percent (1-for-8) clip in the second half.
Sophomore forward Kelsey Hudson and freshman forward Lindsey West each added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Cougars.
Evangel knocked down seven three-pointers in the first half alone, including three straight to spark a 14-2 run that gave the Lady Crusaders a 19-6 lead with 11:49 to play in the first half. Junior guard Lachelle Jibben hit two of the treys in the run and led Evangel with nine first-half points. Dresback scored seven first-half points to keep Azusa Pacific’s halftime deficit within nine points at 33-24.
With the win, Evangel improves to 7-5 while Azusa Pacific drops to 2-8 on the season. Azusa Pacific meets Trinity Christian (Ill.) tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m.