Savanna Hanson and Rachel Bozlee lead the way on offense to a 76-53 victory

On Saturday, Azusa Pacific women’s basketball put together a dominant second quarter to stave off the Chaminade Silverswords 76-53.

“I was pleased with the effort. The girls were finding each other and rebounding well, something we had definitely been stressing,” said head coach T.J. Hardeman. “We had been thinking a lot about [our game against] Hawaii Pacific, but I’m glad we were able to focus up enough to play tonight.”

The Cougars came out of the gates strong, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes. However, after sophomore Kyra Zovak’s jumper put the Cougars up 15-7, Chaminade went on a 7-0 run of their own to end the quarter and cut APU’s lead to just one point.

There was a notable shift in momentum in the second quarter, as APU outscored Chaminade 26-6. Senior Savanna Hanson kickstarted the offense with a jumper to put the Cougars up 17-14 at the beginning of the quarter. Then senior Rachel Bozlee hit two three-pointers in a row to bring the Azusa Pacific lead to 13 points, and Hanson closed the quarter with a three of her own in the dying seconds. Hanson had nine points in the quarter, followed by Bozlee with six, and senior Cierra Roufosse and sophomore Alex Lowden with four points each.

“Getting passes down low to the post allows us to collapse the defense, so then when the ball comes back out, I can hit from the high post,” Hanson said. “There’s a lot of gaps back up top because Chaminade likes to compact the lane when the ball goes inside. From there it is just executing.”

Although the second half was tightly contested, the Cougars were able to rest on their 21-point halftime lead. Chaminade senior Destiny Castro tried to will her squad back into the game with 10 points in the quarter, but the Cougars would not give in. Both sides scored 18 points in the third quarter, as the Cougars held on to a 59-38 lead.

The Cougars’ lead ballooned to 26 points for a moment in the fourth quarter after Lowden’s jumper with under five minutes remaining. Chaminade found their shooting form at the end of the fourth quarter, going 4-8 from beyond the arc. By then it was too late, though, and APU walked away with a 76-53 victory.

“One of the biggest points of emphasis for this game was rebounding. We have the size advantage over them, so limiting Chaminade to just one shot was important for us. If we don’t do that, then we can be in trouble,” Bozlee said.

However, the Cougars can’t afford to rest with a tough test ahead of them as they face Hawaii Pacific on Monday at 5:15 p.m. Hawaii Pacific leads the PacWest with a 15-0 conference record and are currently ranked seventh in the nation at 20-1 overall. Although they face a quick turnaround, Hardeman is confident that his squad will be ready for the challenge.

“We have been good all year at finding each other, and so we just need to continue to do that. This was a good game for us to practice some of those things,” Hardeman said. “It was good for us to work on some of the stuff we plan to use against Hawaii Pacific.”