APU Women's Basketball pose with their pacWest Championship Trophy


On the other hand, the women had the luxury of opening the tournament against the host Fresno Pacific University in front of a rowdy home crowd. Despite the rocking atmosphere in the gym, the Cougars were able to easily handle the SunBirds.

From there, they took on Biola and matched the men’s championship path. While the Cougars’ lack of ball security and defensive cohesion caused an early 15-point hole, they were able to storm back in the third quarter behind a 34-5 run. 

In the championship, they faced ArtU Women’s Basketball.

It was clear from the early minutes of the game that the Urban Knights wanted to get freshman forward Molly Whitmore in foul trouble and slow down the Cougars’ pace.

They succeeded in both areas, forcing Whitmore into two early fouls and containing APU to 12 first-quarter points. While very capable in the half-court, the Cougars shine in up and down games. As a high IQ team, they are able to run their lane and get transition three-pointers in faster-paced games.

In slow-up games, they’re not able to get up as many shots and are forced off the three-point line.  Against the Urban Knights, they struggled in the half-court, unable to get their primary scorer, Kayla Shaw, going. To cap that off, the Cougars weren’t able to get to the free-throw line, a place where they manufacture 11 points per game.

On the defensive end, they had problems keeping the Urban Knights out of the paint. PacWest All-Time Leading Shot Blocker, Laura Pranger, was forced to show on help. In those situations ArtU dumped the ball down to Pranger’s man, getting easy layups.

The Cougars entered halftime down 20-22—a season-low in halftime scoring for APU. 

The second half was a different story. The Cougars were able to get loose in the open court, Shaw connecting for three straight three-pointers in the third quarter. While the Urban Knights still attacked the paint, the Cougars were able to take control of the game behind their three-point shooting.

First Team All PacWest member Paige Uyehara dissected the Urban Knights apart in the third, finding shooters and rim running bigs, leading APU to an 18-6 run to enter the fourth up seven.

The fourth quarter was all APU. Whitmore returned to the game and her impact was immensely felt. Aside from offering another post scoring threat, Whitmore is also a gifted passer out of the post. Not to mention she is the most physical player on APU. Her presence separated APU, closing out the game and securing the PacWest Tournament Championship.

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