The Cougars make a comeback with four minutes left in the last quarter to secure a series sweep against Biola this past weekend.
Coming off a strong two-game stretch, Azusa Pacific’s women’s basketball team hoped to continue building from the momentum in this weekend’s double-header against Biola, a team they had already beaten twice this season. The Cougars were able to make it four straight wins after Saturday’s victory, and they advanced their record 6-3 after two dramatic affairs.
The Cougars started the weekend off strong by securing a 62-57 win against the Eagles on Friday. The game was a battle until the very end. APU was able to achieve victory from a 17-point deficit and shut down Biola in the second half.
Biola once again played their best basketball early on Saturday, as they were able to run up a ten-point lead in the first half of the game and kept a double-digit lead until the second half yet again. The Cougars flipped a switch on offense in the third quarter as they were scrambling to cut a 15-point deficit, exchanging a number of 3-point shots.
The Cougars would eventually battle back in the final minutes of the third cutting the Eagles lead to nine. Head Coach T.J. Hardeman stated that “pressuring and getting into a more up-tempo game helped us.” He then goes on to say that sophomore Paige Uyehara “came up huge” for them in the second half. Uyehara shot 50% from the field, making 10 free throws and five three-pointers this game.
The final quarter quickly became a battle of will. The energy was felt through the gym, despite the ironic fact that no fans sat in the stands. APU was able to pile up some quick points after sophomore Molly Whitmore and freshman Kelly Heimburger earned trips to the free-throw line.
Biola fought to keep their lead, but for every shot the Eagles made, the Cougars responded with a play of their own. Both teams battled back and forth until the final five minutes of the game, and still, the Cougars were down by ten.
It was during those last five minutes when the Cougars offense lit the court up. They forced seven turnovers and scored 19 points off of those turnovers alone. APU ended up outscoring the Eagles 35-19 in the fourth quarter, winning the contest 83-76.
This was a huge win for the Cougars’ chemistry, as they battled relentlessly and were rewarded in the end. With a young roster like this, the momentum from this series is key to the team’s success moving forward.
“It builds confidence…they’re seeing what we need to do to win and they realize now that they never quit until the game is over because you never know what is going to happen,” said Hardeman.
In order to secure victory throughout the weekend, it was imperative for this team to show reliance. Through this process, APU was able to bring home another set of wins in the Corner-Stone Cup rivalry. The Cougars not only showcased their abilities this weekend but also their drive to win. If that tendency becomes a normality, the rest of their season should look pretty bright.