WOMEN’S GAME: The playoff field is set, but the bottom 4 seeds are undecided, and tonight’s game could go a long way in decided where Azusa Pacific will play its first round game. The NAIA’s No. 13-ranked Vanguard, which clinched its fourth GSAC championship and an automatic bid to the NAIA Tournament Tuesday night, concludes its regular-season slate tonight and will be the top seed with home court advantage throughout the GSAC Tournament. Meanwhile, Azusa Pacific is currently in a 3-way tie with Biola and Fresno Pacific for sixth place and just ½ game behind Cal Baptist for the fifth spot. This is Azusa Pacific’s 14th game against a ranked opponent this year.
SERIES NOTES: Azusa Pacific leads the all-time series with Vanguard, 36-14, and that includes a 20-4 mark and 3 straight in Azusa. The Cougars had won 6 straight in the series before the Lions picked up a 58-55 win (Jan. 18) in Costa Mesa. In that game, Vanguard held a 10-point (45-35) lead with 10 minutes to go before the Cougars cut the deficit to 3 in the final 30 seconds. The Cougars had 2 chances to tie, but both potential game-tying 3-point attempts rattled out.
REGAL REGAN: Over the past 6 games, junior Candis Regan has stepped up her play and as a result Azusa Pacific has won 4 of its last 6. She has scored in double-figures in 5 of the last 6 games and is averaging 13.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists. She is shooting at a .333 (10-for-30) clip from beyond the arc. Included in that stretch is a career-high 23-point, 8-rebound outing in a 79-73 win over California Baptist Tuesday night, and a career-high 4 treys and 12 first half points in a 74-68 upset at The Master’s Feb. 11. Azusa Pacific is 7-4 this season in games that Regan scores in double figures.
MEN’S GAME: Coming off a huge 109-74 GSAC win over Cal Baptist Tuesday night, GSAC-leading Azusa Pacific goes for its third straight win tonight against Vanguard, which has split each of its past 4 games. A win would keep the Cougars 1 ½ games ahead of Concordia with 2 games remaining. The Cougars would then need to win just 1 of their final 2 games (Westmont and Point Loma) to clinch at least a share of the GSAC title, the top-seed in the upcoming GSAC Tournament as well as the conference’s automatic bid to the 2003 NAIA Tournament March 26-Apri 1 in Kansas City, Mo.
SERIES NOTES: Azusa Pacific is 53-26 all-time vs. Vanguard, including a 31-6 mark in Azusa. The Cougars have won 9 straight from the Lions overall and 11 straight at home dating back to 1992. In their first meeting in Costa Mesa Jan. 18, Azusa Pacific jumped out to a 19-4 lead, hitting 8 of its first 10 shots, and led 54-26 at halftime before coasting to a 111-89 win. Caleb Gervin finished with 20 points and 7 assists in just 22 minutes. Azusa Pacific head coach Bill Odell is 21-5 all-time vs. Vanguard with 2 of the losses coming in his inaugural campaign in 1992.
STAND AND DELIVER: The veteran of the GSAC, senior guard Jeff Staniland etched his name into the Cougar record book Tuesday night playing in his 133rd game in the Cougars’ 109-74 win over California Baptist, passing Jim Wilson (1970-73) and Justin Leslie (1997-01) for most games played in Azusa Pacific history. It was also his 73rd GSAC contest, the most-ever played by any conference player. And he celebrated it in grand style too, scoring a career-high 29 points, hitting 10-of-14 shots on the Lancers. Staniland has missed just 1 game over the course of 4-year career at Azusa Pacific (Dec. 22, 1999 at CS Los Angeles), appearing in 124 consecutive games. Azusa Pacific is 76-5 when he scores 10 or more points in a game and overall is 113-20 in games Staniland has played since coming to Azusa Pacific as Ventura High’s all-time leading scorer.
SIR LANCE-A-LOT: He’s just a freshman, but reserve forward Lance Soderberg has made a nice adjustment to the collegiate level and has found a way to become a big contributor in recent weeks. Over the past 4 games, Soderberg is averaging 11.3 points and 4.2 rebounds, while shooting at a .737 (14-for-19) clip from the floor, and he has played a big role in each of the past 2 wins. In the win against then No. 4-ranked Concordia, Soderberg tallied 12 points (5-of-6 shooting) and 3 rebounds. He followed that with a career-high 20 points and 5 rebounds, going a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor and 10-of-11 from line in the win vs. Cal Baptist.
BACKCOURT BOMBERS: Never before has there been a duo quite like senior guards Caleb Gervin and Jeff Staniland in GSAC history and rarely in the long annuals of Cougar basketball. For the first time since All-Americans Chuck Boswell and Dennis Dickens in 1969, Azusa Pacific has a pair of 1,400-point career scorers playing on the same team. Gervin, who currently leads the GSAC in scoring (19.1 avg.), has tallied 1,526 points during his Azusa Pacific career, eighth on the Cougar all-time scoring chart. Staniland is ninth with 1,491 career points, needing just 8 more for 1,500.