The Cougars prevail in a tough game to start PacWest play undefeated before a four-game road trip
The preseason co-favorites for the PacWest Conference met in Felix Event Center on Saturday and the contest did not disappoint. Azusa Pacific women’s basketball came out victorious in a 81-69 win against the Point Loma Sea Lions.
The Cougars started the game in a full court press and that pressure affected the Sea Lions for most of the game. The Sea Lions had 12 turnovers at halftime and finished with 20 for the game.
“It was okay,” Head Coach T.J. Hardeman said about the team’s defense. “We caused quite a bit of havoc, but you want to do that without giving up easy shots and we gave up a couple too easy shots, but when you hustle, that is going to happen.”
The Cougars created a lot of turnovers but also shot the ball well in this game. APU shot 45 percent from the field and 37 percent behind the three-point line. The Cougars had five girls score double-digit figures led by senior forward Casey Wortley with 16 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists.
“Every single one of us on the team can score,” Wortley said. “That’s what we focus on. It shows that we have been working very hard for it and we want to go far this year.”
Wortley, junior guard Gina Henderson and sophomore guard Rachel Bozlee each contributed over 10 points from the bench today. The Cougars’ bench outscored Point Loma, 41 to five.
“I was not surprised. That’s one of our strengths; we have players that can play and if they are open, they are going to shoot it,” Hardeman said.
Bozlee and sophomore guard Savanna Hanson led the Cougars at in the first half with eight and seven points respectively. Hanson finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds to record her fourth double-double of the season. The Cougars went into halftime with a five-point lead at 40-35.
The third quarter started off quickly and went back-and-fourth. Seven of the nine lead changes happened in the third quarter alone. The Cougars regained the lead in the fourth quarter on a three-point shot from the left wing by senior guard Abbigail Goodsell with seven minutes left in the game.
Sophomore point guard Zoe March was one of the main leaders in the game. March scored 14 points, five assists and three rebounds.
“Our game is team ball and that’s what we strive to be. We are very special in a way that everyone who steps on the court, we’re all scorers,” March said. “We all work really hard and we love working together. It is incredibly important that we find each person on the court whenever they are open.”
The Cougars combined for 13 steals as a team with March leading the way with seven.
“I like the fact that I know I can come out here with confidence on the court as a defender because if the [opponent] does drive past me, I have a very strong and smart team behind me that’s going to get my back every time,” March said.
Point Loma led by nine rebounds at halftime but the Cougars fought back and finished the game tied with 39 rebounds.
“We talked about that specifically as we are getting beat on the board and that can’t happen,” Hardeman said. “That was good to get after it and rebound, to take care of the ball and to give them one shot and that’s it. It happened a number of times in the second half. I thought Casey Wortley had the best game; being able to come in to rebound, box out and take care of the ball.”
The Cougars improve to 11-1 overall and 2-0 in the PacWest Conference as they embark on a four-game road trip that begins on Dec. 9 against Dixie State.