Azusa Pacific 71
AZUSA, Calif. –Fresno Pacific’s Maurecia Clark scored a game-high 29 points, including 17 in the second half when she was saddled with 4 fouls, to lead the Sunbirds to a 74-71 GSAC win over Azusa Pacific.
The win completes the Sunbirds’ season sweep of the Cougars. FPU defeated the Cougars, 94-69, earlier this year in Fresno. It also moves the Sunbirds into seventh place and bumps the Cougars to eighth in the GSAC standings as playoff time approaches. The top 8 teams advance to the GSAC Postseason Tournament in March.
With just 1 first half foul, Clark picked up 3 additional fouls less than 5 minutes into the second half and was forced to the bench. At that point, the Cougars went on a mini 7-1 run over a 1:40 span to turn a 40-36 lead into a 47-37 advantage with 13:43 to play. Candis Regan had 5 of the Cougars’ 7 points in the run.
Needing some sort of spark, Clark was immediately reinserted into the game. She proceeded to score 17 of the Sunbirds’ final 37 points, and in an effort to protect her on the defensive end; Fresno Pacific went into a zone, which seemingly disrupted the Cougars’ offensive flow.
The Sunbirds began with a 13-3 run over a 3:08 span to tie the contest at 50-50 with 9:48 to play. Yet, the Cougars wouldn’t let them get over the hump, pushing the lead back up to 5 points (64-59) on a Lindsey West conventional 3-point play with 4:48 to play.
However, Clark’s trey completed 5 straight Sunbird points that tied the game at 64-64 with 3:41 to play. The teams then traded 3-point buckets, and West gave the Cougars a 69-67 lead, but Clark answered with her second bomb to give the Sunbirds a 70-69 lead, their first since midway through the first half.
After a Regan jumper gave the Cougars a 71-70 lead with 1:44 to play, Clark gave the Sunbirds the lead for good, 72-71, with 34 seconds left with a pair of free throws. Holding for the last shot, the Cougars were induced into a turnover, and Lindsey Shaver hit 2 free throws for the final margin. The Cougars’ last-second game-tying attempt fell short.
West led the Cougars with 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Regan added 15 points and 5 assists off the bench, and Nicolette Dresback chipped in with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific drops to 8-18, 6-9. Fresno Pacific improves to 9-17, 7-9.