APU continues its 7-game win streak in a tough rivalry game in their first home game since returning from Hawaii after beating Biola 73-69.
The Azusa Pacific Cougars came into this rivalry game against Biola with a record of 16-3. The team had just returned from Hawaii where they won all three games to add to their six-game win streak.
In the first quarter of the Cornerstone Cup, the Cougars held the Eagles down. Paige Uyehara led as the floor general while TyLee Manuel and Molly Whitmore dominated the paint. The Cougars ended the first quarter with a 24-12 lead.
In the second quarter, the Eagles started to fight back and narrow the lead. Manuel took over and scored eight points in the quarter while Amayah Kirkman hit a last-second three-pointer to give the Cougars a 41-32 lead going into halftime.
To start the second half, the Eagles came out hot. For every shot made by APU, Biola quickly responded with points of their own. Although the Eagles were able to steal the lead in the middle of the quarter, three-pointers from Uyehara and Kirkman helped edge a 58-51 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The intense battle between the rivals continued going into the fourth quarter. Once again, the two teams were going back and forth. Biola was able to score off of turnovers and made it 64-64 with 3:30 left in the game. The game continued to be neck and neck down to the last seconds of the game. With 3.8 seconds left, Kirkman hit a huge three-pointer to take the lead and Kelly Heimburgers stole the ball and made her free throw to seal the win.
APU won the first, nail-biting game against Biola 73-69, making it a seven-game win streak.
Manuel finished the game with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, Kirkman had 17 points and Uyehara had 11 points and 6 assists.
Head Coach T.J. Hardeman was proud of the team’s resilience. “Whenever you get back from Hawaii, it’s an adjustment to get back into a flow…Sometimes we were really good and sometimes we weren’t so good. But I was proud of the girls for the fact that we lost the lead and they didn’t panic and kept working.”
As far as improvements for the team as they continue into PacWest games, Hardeman believes the team is strong defensively but still needs to make the smart plays and know when and where to help on the court.
Besides winning the PacWest, Hardeman believes that the team can make a run for the national championship. “We’re good enough to do it. We have solid players at each position. It’s not unreasonable to think we can do it. It’s going to take a great effort to beat us,” said Hardeman.
The team looks to continue the streak at home against Chaminade on Jan. 30.
APU will face Biola again on Feb. 11 in La Mirada.