The Cougars had a tough weekend against Biola in back-to-back game series.
In a two-game series, Azusa Pacific’s men’s basketball team fell to the Biola Eagles twice, increasing their losing streak to three. In the last encounter between the two teams, Azusa Pacific lost the first game, then won the following game in that two-game series.
Throughout the first game, which was on Friday, the Cougars fought hard but came up short against Biola. With a final score of 81-71, the Eagles took command of the season series, leading 2-1. The second contest, which was played Saturday afternoon, saw the Eagles manage to score two buckets within the last minute of the game, putting them ahead to win 70-67.
Friday’s contest was a close affair early on. During the first 17 minutes of the game, neither team led by more than five points, which was held by the Cougars after Sasha French made two free throws. Yet, Biola’s Alex Wright closed that gap in a four-minute stretch with 15 points of his own, turning the score to 37-25 in favor of the Eagles.
By taking charge at the end of that first half, Biola was put in a position to run away with the game. Michael Bagatourian, yet another asset to Biola, helped in the victory over APU thanks to his offensive production, scoring 31 points throughout the game. Though APU was able to convert 11 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points, it was not enough to beat the Eagles.
The Eagles had a shooting percentage for the game was 42.9%, whereas the Cougars had a shooting percentage of 41.3%. The Eagles also pulled away with a 47.4% of three-point shots made, and the Cougars were at a 24.1%
Saturday’s game was hosted by the Eagles, and it finished in heartbreak for the Cougars. After playing each other for the second time in 24 hours, the competition between the two sides was intense throughout the entire 40 minutes. Biola managed to get an early lead with five blocked shots in the first half and a 41-30 rebounding edge. Azusa Pacific’s bench, however, managed to put up 29 points and turned 12 Eagle turnovers into 18 points.
In an immensely close game, Biola led for a majority of the first half. With just under four minutes remaining before halftime, the game was tied at 28 apiece, which would eventually turn into a five-point lead for Biola at the half.
Biola opened the half with an 11-0 run, allowing them to lead 53-39. However, the Cougars responded with a 13-0 run of their own. After a made three by Ben Avera, the game was tied at 55 with 8:50 left on the clock.
In the fourth quarter, reaching the three-minute mark, the game was tied at 64 when Biola missed a layup and it was recovered by the Cougars. Hustling down the court, Avera hit his fourth triple of the night which gave APU their first lead since early in the first half.
In the last 34 seconds of the game, the Cougars found themselves up 67-66. Yet a Biola miss was tipped in by Jesse Elrod with 19 seconds left, putting the Eagles up by one. The Cougars followed with a missed runner in the lane, and Biola, securing the rebound, threw a beautiful assist across the court to secure the game-winning layup, producing the final margin.
The Cougars, who are now 3-4 on the season, will return home to host Fresno Pacific (4-3) in a non-conference game Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Their next conference series will be played against Concordia Irvine next weekend on Friday and Saturday. The Tuesday and Friday games can be streamed for free on Cougars All-Access.