LA MIRADA, Calif. – In most cases a 25-point lead is a big enough cushion. Not tonight. Not in another chapter of Azusa Pacific-Biola.
Azusa Pacific torched the nets, hitting 15 of its first 20 shots to race out to a 42-17 lead in the first 15 minutes, but it was a pair of free throws by Nicolette Dresback in the final 6 seconds that broke a 68-68 tie and sealed the deal in a frenetic 70-68 win over arch-rival Biola before nearly 1,500 fans in La Mirada.
Dresback, the Cougars’ third-leading scorer, was saddled for most of the game with foul trouble, playing just 18 minutes. She made just 1 trip to the free throw line after she collected her only steal of the night, but she made the most of her lone trip to the charity stripe.
After erasing the 25-point deficit in the final 25 minutes and seemingly seizing all momentum, Biola held a 2-point lead (68-66) with 2:17 to play, but Candis Regan buried a jumper to tie the game 68-68 with 1:13 to play. Neither team could capitalize on their ensuing possessions, and the Eagles had 2 chances in the final 30 seconds after getting a pair of offensive rebounds. However, Dresback collected her first steal of the night and was fouled in the process, setting up the dramatics.
Lindsey West had a game-high 24 points and 9 rebounds. The freshman hit 10-of-12 shots from the floor and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. It was her jumper that gave the Cougars a 5-4 lead and ignited an 18-2 spurt that gave the Cougars a 21-6 lead.
Biola’s Sarah Baird hit a trey to temporarily stem the tide, but West again started another Cougar run, this time a 21-8 run that ended with a Jaclyn Rice trey and a 42-17 Azusa Pacific advantage with 5:44 left in the first half.
However, Biola refused to wilt, turned up the defensive pressure and had a run of its own. The Eagles outscored the Cougars 43-18 over the next 21 minutes to eventually tie the game at 60 with 4:26 to play. Biola took its first lead less than a minute later on a 3-pointer by Elizabeth Matthews, then expanded it to 3 (65-62) with 2:43 to play.
Marie Dyk finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, and she hit back-to-back jumpers to give the Cougars the lead again (66-65) with 2:28 to play. The Eagles then hit 3-of-4 free throws to re-take the lead and set up the final sequence.
Regan finished with 15 points, including a pair of treys, and 5 rebounds off the bench. Matthews led Biola with 24 points. Baird added 11 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.
The Cougars shot nearly 60% from the floor, finishing 26-for-45 (57.8%). Although, the Cougars did commit 24 turnovers, from which Biola scored 28 points. However, the Cougars won the war on the boards, 38-24.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 9-18 overall, 7-9 GSAC. Biola drops to 14-10, 7-10 GSAC.