The first big test for the Cougars men’s basketball team provides a good learning experience for upcoming games
The Azusa Pacific Cougars men’s basketball team defeated the Point Loma Sea Lions in a low scoring defensive contest. The Cougars won 66-55 in the Felix Event Center on Saturday night.
The Cougars’ defense created 15 turnovers and scored 19 points off those turnovers. Both teams shot the under 40 percent, but the Cougars converted six more three-pointers.
“With Point Loma, it was learn all their stuff and just know it,” head coach Justin Leslie said on defending Point Loma. “I just say [assistant coach] Pete Bond did a great job of getting every possible situation that they could throw at us. Our guys were able to watch through it, see it on video and then we got to give credit to the players on a one day turnaround, completely locking in and getting all those actions. We kept them out of system for almost the entire game tonight.”
The contest was close for almost the entire game with the biggest lead at 12 points. Senior forwards Corey Langerveld and Petar Kutlesic led the Cougars in this victory.
Langerveld scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He shot six of 14 from the field today, and three of six behind the three-point line. Kutlesic recorded his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
“We were really intentional about stopping their point guard so we made him go left with whoever was defending him,” Kutlesic said. “For the two post players, we had a clear game plan not to let them go baseline and I think we did a really good job. This team has turned out to be a really good defensive team, and that’s been a pattern for the last 10 games. We have been holding our opponents to 35 percent shooting, which is great.”
The Cougars started the game on a 7-0 run and did not look back. Point Loma had a one-point lead and tied the game twice in the first half but could not sustain it.
With 2:30 left in the first half, Langerveld drove to the hoop and stopped on a dime. Langerveld turned around and threw the ball to junior point guard Darien McClain who nailed the right wing three-pointer to make it 29-19. The Cougars went into halftime up 31-23 and shooting the ball at 40 percent from the field.
Early in the second half, Azusa Pacific started to change their defense. They went from man defense to a 2-3 zone.
With three minutes gone in the second half, McClain tipped a pass in the zone and chased down the loose ball from an opposing player. McClain corralled the ball at half court and threw it to Langerveld who finished with a two-handed dunk on a fast break.
“Pete Bond spent so much time studying and learning Point Loma. We spent all week and we knew their plays,” Langerveld said. “We knew what was going to happen and so, when you know something, you are able to be more aggressive. We had a lot of turnovers where Darien [McClain] knew exactly what was going to happen, so he was able to jump on plays and not like he was gambling but he knew exactly what was coming.”
McClain scored 11 points and dished out five assists. Sophomore guard Mandrell Worthy added 11 points and was three of six on three-point shots. Worthy converted notable three’s in this game.
The game came down to the final minutes. The Sea Lions pulled within four points before the Cougars called a timeout. In the following possession, Worthy drove to the basket and passed the ball to Langerveld who connected on a right wing three-pointer to push the lead to seven points. APU was able to gain enough momentum to finish the game on an 11 point margin of victory.
The Cougars move to 6-4 overall and start 2-0 in the PacWest Conference. The team will be on a four-game road trip beginning Dec. 9 against Dixie State.