In a PacWest doubleheader, the APU men’s and women’s basketball teams faced off against Hawai’i Pacific, splitting games with the Sharks

It was a big night for both Azusa Pacific’s men’s and women’s basketball squads at the Felix Event Center on Monday. Hawai’i Pacific was in town, and each game presented unique opportunities for the cougars. 

Women’s Basketball: HPU 85, APU 71

This game provided an opportunity for a statement win against the NCAA DII 7th ranked team and the leader of the PacWest, the only team ahead of APU in the standings.

Both teams came to play, bringing focus and intensity from the tipoff. The first quarter was very back and forth. APU executed their offensive sets successfully early on with quality shots. However, HPU took advantage of the sluggish on-ball defense of the Cougars to get to the basket and free throw line. Both teams had back-to-back turnovers in a sloppy finish to the first quarter.

Senior guard Rachel Bozlee knocked down three’s on consecutive APU possessions to help the Cougars gain an 11 point lead, their largest of the night. Bozlee would finish the game with four triples, 12 points in all. 

Shortly thereafter, HPU erased the Cougars’ lead and established one of their own. They capitalized on a series of missed shots and turnovers by the Cougars to score 15 unanswered points, securing a 40-34 halftime lead. 

APU was unable to turn things around in the third quarter. They failed to execute as they did in the first half, and their energy seemed lacking. Turnovers plagued the Cougars, and the Sharks capitalized by running the floor and spreading the ball around to score. They led by 19 at the end of the third quarter. 

Coach T.J. Hardeman was able to create the spark the Cougars needed by calling for full-court pressure defense coming out in the fourth. The Sharks were visibly flustered, and the Cougars cut their lead to 12. But HPU found their rhythm again and slowed the pace down as the Cougars ran out of steam. They outlasted APU 85-71.

Senior Savannah Hanson led the Cougars in scoring with 18 points on 6-17 shooting, including four triples. Senior Daylee Hanson had eight rebounds on the night, and senior Cierra Roufosse and junior Laura Pranger finished with three blocks apiece. 

The Cougars may have missed an opportunity to defeat a nationally-ranked opponent, but they remain in control of second place in the PacWest and look forward to redeeming themselves against Fresno Pacific on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.

Men’s Basketball: APU 82, HPU 48 

The late-game featured the 18-3 Azusa Pacific men’s team against the 9-12 Sharks. APU looked to claim first place in the PacWest with a win against HPU. 

Both teams bust out of the gates with a lot of energy in the first half. APU forced tough shots and turnovers for HPU, which would be a consistent theme throughout the game. Terrence Becvar came off the bench and drained a three, helping the Cougars explode to an early 12-2 lead. They would lead by double digits for most of the remainder of the game. 

Back to back threes from freshman Ken West and junior Brennan Rymer extended APU’s lead to 27-12 with a little over 10 minutes left in the half. The Cougars went cold for a few minutes, and HPU started hitting their shots consistently. But no matter how hard they tried, the Sharks couldn’t cut the Cougars’ lead. APU finished the first half leading 41-24 behind senior Selom Mawugbe’s 12 first-half points. 

APU dominated the second half early and often. Their first 30 point lead of the game came halfway through the second, at which point head coach Peter Bond felt comfortable rotating in some of the reserves. Bond’s squad cruised through the last 10 minutes to an 82-48 victory. 

Rymer led all Cougars in scoring with 18 on the night. Mawugbe paced the Cougars with seven rebounds and finished with 14 points of his own on 6-7 shooting. Senior Noah Bundrant, sophomore Ben Avera, and senior Ben Taufahema each had a pair of steals, and Mawugbe totaled four blocks in the Cougar’s defensive effort. 

With the win, APU is now the leader of the PacWest conference and will remain one of the top-ranked teams in the NCAA Division II. They will face Fresno Pacific on Thursday in the Felix Event Center at 7 p.m.