The Cougars won both games against CCAA Conference opponents at home this weekend


It wasn’t pretty, but Azusa Pacific’s women’s basketball team improves to 5-0 after defeating both Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State Dominguez Hills this weekend at home in the PacWest/CCAA Conference Challenge.

The Conference Challenge that APU hosted featured two teams from the PacWest conference (APU and Point Loma) and two teams from the CCAA Conference (Cal Poly Pomona and CSU Dominguez Hills).

On Friday, the 16th-ranked Cougars would find themselves in a battle with Cal Poly Pomona. APU would have the lead for the majority of the game over the Broncos, but it came down to the final seconds, where a crucial block from senior forward Gabrielle Kaiser would seal a 75-72 victory for the Cougars.

Kaiser led the team with 23 points on the night and six blocks, while sophomore forward Savanna Hanson would record a double-double, scoring 14 points and 11 rebounds on the night.

“I’m pleased with the effort, energy and execution for it being early in the season,” head coach T.J. Hardeman said. “I think there is a number of things that we’re doing that we like.”

On Saturday, the Cougars faced off against the Toros of CSU Dominguez Hills. The APU defense helped keep the Cougars ahead of their opponent after the offense struggled to get into a rhythm which resulted to some foul trouble and turnovers. The Cougars beat the Toros 65-54 and never trailed throughout the entire game.

However, this was the least amount of points that APU had put up on an opponent so far, this season. The Cougars only shot 37.7 percent from the field and committed 21 turnovers.

Senior guard Tara Casey believes that the 5-0 start is good for the team in helping their confidence, but knows that they have to clean up their mistakes.

“I think this is good for our confidence right now [to start 5-0],” Casey said. “We have some tough games coming up against some good teams that we are going to play, so we just have to stay focused. We need to work more on our defense and executing with our offense, and we pulled out a win today even though it was ugly, but we’ll be alright.”

Kaiser once again led the team in scoring on the night, putting up 16 points from the paint. She notched her first double-double of the season by also grabbing 14 rebounds for the Cougars.

Kaiser went out of the game in the third period after sustaining a right leg injury, and others were forced to step up for the Cougars. Both Hanson and Casey had solid nights offensively; Hanson was second on the team with 12 points and third on the team with eight rebounds, and Casey was third on the team with 11 points.

“[My team] knew I was hitting spots, so they kept feeding me,” Casey said. “Gabby [Kaiser] is always good inside, she does great all the time; Sav [Hanson] is always putting up shots. We know who our scorers are, so we know who to pass the ball to.”

The Cougars look to take the momentum and confidence that they have into their next stretch of games. APU will play their next three games at home in the Felix Event Center, with the first being against Westmont on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 5:30 p.m. and the other two coming against Seattle Pacific and Western Washington in the West Region Crossover Classic next weekend.

Hardeman and his team are focused on their next opponent and see every game as an opportunity to get better.

“Every game we have is a new chance to execute and play, to get better and figure out what we’re good at, what we can do more of and what we need to work on,” Hardeman said.