The APU women’s basketball team hosted the NCAA DII West Regionals as the No. 1 seed, but their season came to an abrupt end after a disappointing quarterfinals loss
The Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team suffered a stunning 66-60 loss to the Humboldt State Lumberjacks on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II West Regionals.
Despite losing to Point Loma in the semi-finals of the PacWest Tournament, the Cougars came in as the No. 1 seed in the West Region. As a result, the West Region games was held at Felix Event Center, which looked to be an advantage for the Cougars.
However, the Lumberjacks started the game aggressively, taking a 17-5 commanding lead early in the first quarter.
“People always ask me if I am concerned about our lack of size and I’m not,” Humboldt State head coach Michelle Bento-Jackson said. “Our opponents need to be concerned about us. We spread the floor out, and that’s usually uncomfortable for our opponents.”
Humboldt State was able to end the quarter with a 24-14 lead. The Lumberjacks were 4-9 from three range in the first quarter. However, the Cougars didn’t help themselves committing three turnovers in the quarter.
“The biggest thing was that we didn’t make shots,” APU head coach T.J. Hardeman said. “We had a lot of good looks and we just didn’t make them.”
Nonetheless, the Cougars were able to crawl back into the game in the second quarter. Senior forward Gabrielle Kaiser was able to get going with 10 points in the second quarter. The Cougars were only 4-13 shooting from behind the arc in the first half but were able to get to the free throw line eight times. Junior Guard Gina Henderson hit a big three-pointer with one-minute left in the first half that gave APU a 34-32 lead.
The Cougars would go into halftime with a 36-33 lead and seemed to be finding their rhythm. Yet, the Lumberjacks would find ways to stick around only trailing by four points heading into the fourth quarter.
Neither team shot particularly well on the night. The Cougars shot 38 percent from the field, and the Lumberjacks only shot 30 percent. Two of APU’s leading scorers, senior guard Abbigail Goodsell and sophomore guard Savanna Hanson combined for only six points, and were 3-21 shooting on the night.
“Obviously this wasn’t my best game, but I don’t think scoring is why we lost,” Goodsell said. “The lack of getting dead balls, hustle plays, and not running down on defense… I don’t think it all just comes down to who scores more.”
Overall, Humboldt State would go on to hit 10 three-pointers on the night. The Lumberjacks’ sophomore guard Madeline Hatch would hit back-to-back corner three’s in the fourth quarter to tie it up at 58 a piece with six minutes left in the game.
The Cougars went cold in the fourth quarter, shooting 3-for-18 from the field, and only scoring once in the last six minutes of the game.
“In the fourth quarter we were 3-for-18 and only scored seven points. We didn’t finish,” Hardeman said.
The Lumberjacks would snag a game high 19 offensive rebounds, which proved to pay dividends on the night. Lumberjacks forward Isamar Conde notched a double-double with a game high 22 points and 12 rebounds. Kaiser led the Cougars with 14 points and seven rebounds to go with it.
The No. 8 seed Humboldt State will advance to the semifinals to play the No. 5 seed Alaska Anchorage in the semi-finals of the West Region today at 7:30 pm in the Felix Event Center.
As for the Cougars, their goals of winning of National Championship end abruptly. However, Hardeman believes this team reached some milestones this season.
“It’s disappointing to end in a way that we really haven’t played all year, but that’s sports,” Hardeman said. “But I thought we accomplished a lot of the stuff we wanted to accomplish.”