Biola was looking for revenge after losing to APU by 14 in December, but they found none as the Cougars offense dominated the whole game
On Saturday night, APU’s men’s basketball team took on their rivals, Biola University, at home for the second and final time this season. The Cougars dominated for almost the entire game, leading for 35 minutes in what ended up being a 84-72 win over the Eagles.
Biola scored the game’s first points as the first couple minutes started out tightly contested.
“Normally the Biola games are always slow, and baskets are hard to come by whenever we play this team,” said APU men’s basketball head coach Justin Leslie.
It only took five minutes in the first half before APU was able to go on an 8-0 scoring run, separating themselves from the Eagles. APU led as many as 18 points.
The first half ended 43-26 with the Cougars shooting 46.7 percent from the three point line and 60 percent from the field. The Cougars had nine different players score.
Biola had a 6-0 run in the second half, pulling within eight of the Cougars, but it was not enough. Although the Cougars dominated for most of the game, Leslie shared his frustration with his team’s defensive play.
“It was exciting for the crowd and of course the players to see a lot of shots and points, but I’m disappointed we gave up 46 points in the second half, that was something we did not want to do,” Leslie said.
Fortunately for the Cougars, their offense continued rolling throughout the second half. APU won the turnover battle, a key element that allowed their offense to open up and shoot.
The Cougars were led by senior Darien McClain with 22 points. Senior Will Ferris had 17 points, including a pair of clutch three pointers that ultimately gave the Cougars the boost and cushion they needed to secure the win.
“I missed a couple early threes in the game, but Darien was able to do a good job at allowing me to get open and finding me so I could hit a couple of big threes,” Ferris said.
The highlight of the game was when Darien McClain, the shortest player on the team at 5’10, sealed the victory with a dunk that got the entire bench and The Zu on their feet.
“I almost wasn’t going to dunk,” McClain said, laughing. “But it was at home, against Biola. I had to do it for all the fans and students that came out to support.”
McClain, Ferris, and Leslie all spoke about how important this win was because of their rivalry, noting that having the home crowd come out and support meant a lot to the team. The Cougars now improve to 11-8 overall with a (8-4) record in conference play. With just 10 games remaining, Leslie after the game expressed the team is still learning, improving, and aiming to build momentum for tournament play in March.