The Felix Event Center was filled with excitement on Saturday night as the Azusa Pacific’s women’s basketball team took on their biggest rivals, the Biola University Eagles, in another installment of the Cornerstone Cup. A strong game in all aspects, the Cougars used their skill and creativity to give Biola more than they could handle, winning the contest 82-53.
From the first tip, the Cougars used their speed to get around Biola’s defense and create havoc in the paint. Taking shots from anywhere and everywhere, the Cougars’ offense was relentless in their attack. Shooting 30 for 68, the field goal percentage of both the team and individual players was superb.
“Some nights the balls go in and other nights they don’t. Tonight the ball was definitely going in,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman. “We shot the ball very well tonight, and we also shot the ball like that all week in practice, so it’s nice when what you do in practice carries over to the game.”
Junior Rachel Bozlee had an outstanding performance, going nine for 13 with four baskets from beyond the arc. Bozlee led the team with 23 points in just over 22 minutes played.
“My team knows me, so it’s not just me doing all of the work. If I start making it, they will find me so I don’t have to do the work,” Bozlee said. “I come in and work on my shot so when it falls it’s awesome.”
On the other side, Biola was having a tough time piecing any kind of attack together. Going 20 for 50 and just 6-22 from the three point line, Biola was struggling on both ends of the court. Only four of the 12 Biola players made at least three shots.
However, this isn’t just because of Biola’s lack of execution on the court. The Cougars played suffocating defense from start to finish, tallying a total of 15 steals and six blocks. Theire defense was constantly on Biola whenever they had the ball. Never giving an inch, this began to wear down Biola, allowing the Cougars to keep pulling away with the lead.
Holding Biola to only six points in the first quarter and keeping them from scoring a single point for the first four minutes of the second half, the Cougars did not let up.
“We noticed that they were gassed, so we just kept pushing them offensively and they shut down,” Bozlee said.
In this game, it seemed as if at some moments the stellar play on offense could have counted as defense. Although Biola’s offense came alive for a little bit in the fourth quarter, it was nowhere near enough to even the score.
Beyond basketball, any kind of sports match against Biola is special. There was a certain energy in the FEC on Saturday night that allowed APU to play even better than they would have. Pumped up in front of a huge crowd, the Cougars fed off of this energy to obtain yet another win.
The rivalry between both of these schools brings out the best competition in both, and in Saturday night’s game, the Cougars were simply the better team. However, the team cannot get complacent about their position in the standings and their play on the court. Hardeman knows there were some kinks to be worked out throughout the game.
“We had a few breakdowns. You could see the breakdowns, and when those happened we were just thinking, ‘Well that’s not the plan,’” Hardeman said. “We were communicating well and we just found each other. It just makes great team chemistry.”
After this win the Cougars improved to 12-0 in conference play and 15-3 overall. This was their second win against Biola and with two more games against their division foe, the team is hoping this trend continues. The Cougars’ next match will be against Fresno Pacific on Thursday. Jan. 24th in the FEC, tipping off at 5:30 p.m.