After losing Friday afternoon’s matchup by two points, the Cougars were able to find their stride Saturday afternoon.
Azusa Pacific’s women’s basketball was able to bounce back Saturday afternoon following a heartbreaking loss the day before.
Six Cougars scored in double figures. Paige Uyehara finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Alex Lowden impacted the game in multiple facets, scoring 11 points with eight assists, six steals and six rebounds. Molly Whitmore scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and Jane Ersepke chipped in 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting.
The Cougars shot 48% from the field, converting on 78% of their free-throw attempts. They also managed to force 22 turnovers and grabbed 13 steals.
Kayla Shaw dropped 30 points on 12 of 18 shooting, continuing her impressive offensive season as she is now averaging 17.3 points per game. With all five Cougar starters scoring in the double digits, APU beat the Point Loma Sea Lions 94-84 and split their two-game series.
Kelly Heimburger recorded her third double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 boards, helping the Cougars snap out of their first losing streak of the season. Azusa outscored Point Loma 42-28 in the paint and outrebounded the Sea Lions 45-36. Azusa Pacific head coach T.J. Hardeman credited his team’s commitment to their rebound performance.
“It was a better commitment of everyone saying hey let’s secure the ball before trying to get out.” Hardeman said. “So there was a concerted effort when it came to the boards, trying to box out and get the ball.”
Azusa took control early in the first quarter after a three-pointer by Alex Lowden put the Cougars ahead 10-3. The Cougars continued to find their offensive rhythm, mixing outside shooting and attacks on the rim throughout the quarter, leading by 27-17 after the first.
The Cougars continued where they left off in the first, pushing their lead to 14 midway through the second quarter. Point Loma didn’t go easily. They battled back in the second quarter, cutting Azusa’s lead to seven. Nevertheless, the Cougars remained in control, holding a 45-34 lead going into halftime.
The third quarter proved to be the difference-maker in the game, as Azusa was able to grab a 19-point lead going into the fourth. Offensively, the team saw multiple looks due to their ability to convert on second-chance opportunities. Defensively, the Cougars strung together multiple stops, holding Point Loma to only 19 third quarter-points.
“Everybody was finding each other,” Hardeman said. “We did a good job of setting each other up.”
The Sea Lions were able to make multiple pushes in the fourth. With less than two minutes left Azusa saw their 20-point lead drop to 11. The Cougars responded by getting to the free-throw line on the offensive end and taking a charge on the defensive end.
“They didn’t catch us, which is nice,” Hardeman said. “They took some wild threes that went in, but we didn’t do the greatest job realizing they’re gonna shoot all threes in the end. But once we figured that out we were fine.”
This was the second meeting between the teams in consecutive days; Point Loma taking the first game 93-91. But the Cougars bounced back in the second matchup, controlling nearly every aspect of the game — executing what their coach outlined as their keys to success.
“The main areas that we were focusing on was to win the rebounding battle, which we did today,” Hardeman said. “We would’ve preferred to have fewer turnovers. They had 20 and we had 22 so we didn’t win that battle. Defensively, we were able to play team defense as far as helping each other out and we were happy with that.”
Azusa will face the Fresno Pacific Sun Birds Tuesday afternoon. Though it will be a short turnaround for the Cougars, Hardeman believes his team is up for the challenge.
“We’re gonna continue to do what we do and that’s what we stress. We want to do what we do, and do it well,” Hardeman said. “It’s another great opportunity for us to practice and play. So, especially in this season with COVID, you want to play all the games you can so we’re happy to be able to do it.”