Cougars defeat Holy Names 94-62 in their first conference game.

From tip-off, APU Women’s basketball outplayed and out hustled Holy Names resulting in a 94-62 victory for the Cougars. The Cougars hosted Holy Names in their first conference game of the season on Nov. 29 in the Felix Event Center. Junior guard Zoe March and sophomore forward Laura Pranger were the night’s top scorers each with 24 points.

To start the game, APU kept a steady lead over Holy Names ending the first period ahead 21-14. The Hawks were able to catch up briefly going into the second period, but the Cougars were able to push through and quickly reclaim the lead for the rest of the game. At halftime, the Cougars were up 39-33.

Coming out of halftime, the Cougars were re-energized and able to maintain the strong defensive tone they had set. In the second half, Junior guard Savanna Hanson stepped up by scoring 14 points and grabbing three steals for the Cougars.

The shared assists also stood out to head coach T.J. Hardeman. He said, “We did a better job of setting each other up,” also adding the importance of spreading the assists amongst players. “When you have numerous people setting each other up it just lets the offense flow. I thought that was a big difference tonight offensively. We flowed a little bit better.”

The Cougars finished the game with 21 assists led by seven from March. Freshman guard Lydia Nieto contributed five assists followed by Daylee Hanson with four. The team’s active defense and swift offensive play helped them hold the lead for all but 27 seconds of the entire game.

One of the biggest keys in this game was APU’s fast-paced and aggressive defense. All night the Cougars pressed the Hawks which lead to 18 steals and 33 turnovers, which APU was able to convert into 40 points alone. March lead the team in steals with six followed by four from junior guard Daylee Hanson.

Speaking on his team’s defensive performance, Hardeman said the goal was to pressure the Hawks to create turnovers.

Although, “It did lead to some easy baskets for them … ” Hardeman said. He explained how at times the Cougars determination to get a steal lead to an overcommitment on defense leading to easy baskets for the Hawks.  “It’s kind of a war of attrition where we were fighting to try and wear them out and I think we did that also.”

Hardeman was proud of the team’s first conference win., “We wanted to set the tone and wanted to give all that effort, and I was really proud of the girls tonight going to rebound offensively, defensively and pursuing and setting each other up. I think they did a good job of just working hard the whole game,” Hardeman said.

The Cougars improve their record to 3-3 overall.