Record-setting performance puts Cougars women’s basketball past Dominican, 125-78
Before Saturday’s game against Dominican University, the Azusa Pacific school record for most points in a women’s basketball game was 120. The same record for the PacWest was held by California Baptist with 121. The 19th-ranked Cougars broke both of those records with a 125-78 victory, while improving to a 23-3 overall record.
The 125 points also tied Indiana (Penn.) for the sixth most points scored in an NCAA Division II women’s basketball game this season.
Although the first quarter was relatively well contested, the rest of the game was not. The Cougars built up a nine-point lead, spearheaded by senior forward Gabrielle Kaiser. Heading into the second quarter, the team never looked back. Azusa Pacific slowly but surely increased their lead in the in the second period, largely due to their active defense and quick transitions. The Cougars forced 16 turnovers in the first half, and were able to turn those turnovers into 28 points on the other end.
By the end of the half, sophomore guard Zoe March paced the APU offense with 17 points, followed by Kaiser with 12 and sophomore guard Rachel Bozlee with nine. Senior guard Abbigail Goodsell had seven points and seven assists at the break, with the Cougars leading 64-43.
“We knew Dominican is a very physical team,” March said, “Coming into this game, we were going to play together and we were going to go as hard as we can and make sure that we out-tough them, and I think our posts really kicked it off down low tonight and our guards just had to follow after that.”
The Cougars picked up right where they left off at the break, outscoring the Penguins 34-19 in the third quarter. Again, the active defense flustered Dominican, and 10 of Azusa’s 34 points in the quarter came from fast break opportunities.
The Cougars entered the fourth quarter with a 98-62 lead, however you wouldn’t know that just by watching the game. The hustle and drive never wavered, and the game plan never changed, despite the near 50-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
“We have a lot of firepower,” head coach T.J. Hardeman said. “Tonight was just a perfect storm of girls hitting shots and finding each other. We had 28 assists on 49 baskets, we were just making an up-tempo basketball game, knowing that we have a lot of players we are trying to get in that can shoot the ball. Tonight, we were finding each other and they were making shots. It was a nice combination.”
A 27-point fourth quarter pushed the Cougars to break the aforementioned records, but that was never the focus.
“It was interesting because I don’t think any of us knew that 120 was the record until our coach said, after we were already at 120, that was the record. There really was no plan. People were just hitting and we were just really focused today,” Goodsell said.
March led the team with 25 points on the night, followed by Bozlee who had 24, Kaiser who had 18 and Goodsell who finished the night with 15.
Coach Hardeman noted that the game plan was to attack, focusing on traps and getting steals and then transitioning those steals to points. The Cougars attacked all night, and were able to convert those turnovers into 48 points on the other end.
“This game was a representation of what it looks like when each player does what they have been working all year to do, and then we bring that together as a team,” March said. “To beat the record, I think, was something that our team worked really hard for, not specifically with the record in mind, but each individual spends their time on the court working hard. Then we all came together tonight and the score is just a representation of that.”
The Cougars have a quick turnaround this week following last week’s long break. APU hosts Chaminade on Monday. On Thursday, the Cougars have five seniors that will be honored in their final home game against Hawaii Hilo.