Azusa Pacific 65
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. –They say it’s hard to beat a team 3 times in a season. It gets even harder to do when you’re trying to do it to a nationally-ranked team.
Azusa Pacific witnessed that first hand tonight as The Master’s College, ranked No. 18 in the NAIA, scored the first 7 points of the second half to blow open a close game, and then coast in for an 88-65 win over the Cougars in the opening round of the GSAC Postseason Tournament in Santa Clarita.
All-GSAC forward Leslie DuBois scored a game-high 28 points and played a key part in The Master’s run to start the second half where it turned a 38-36 lead into a 45-36 advantage to take control of the game and avenge 2 previous losses to Azusa Pacific this year.
The Cougars defeated the then tenth-ranked Mustangs, 79-75, Jan. 4 in Azusa, then doubled the feat a month later with a 74-68 win over the fifth-ranked Mustangs in Santa Clarita Feb. 11.
Tonight, however, was a different story as DuBois hit a pair of 3-pointers as the Mustangs utilized a 17-6 run to to open up a 55-42 lead with 13:44 to play that for all intents and purposes put the game away as they kept the Cougars at a double-digit cushion the rest of the way. The lead steadily grew to 25 (88-63) with just seconds to go.
The Cougars went ice cold in the second half, hitting just 29.6% of their shots, going 8-of-27 from the floor. Conversely, the Mustangs hit 50% (16-of-32) of their shots.
The loss brings an end to one of the most interesting seasons in Azusa Pacific history. The Cougars, who played 16 games against nationally-ranked teams, suffered their first 20-loss season in program history and ends it at 11-21.
The first 20 minutes were quite the opposite as the teams exchanged 10 leads and shared another 8 ties. No lead grew bigger than Azusa Pacific’s 7-2 lead to open the game.
Candis Regan led the Cougars with 15 points. Kelsey Hudson finished with 12 points and a game-high 8 rebounds. All-GSAC Lindsey West added 11.