Azusa Pacific continues its win streak as junior forward Ken West scores 1,000th career point.
Azusa Pacific adds to their four-game win streak after defeating Academy of Art 75-58 on Thursday night. A season-high 26 points from Ken West helped fuel the Cougar offense past a physical Urban Knights team.
Physicality was the story for much of this game. Both APU and Academy of Art came out swinging early, as the Urban Knights scored 24 points in the paint, while the Cougars only totaled eight in the first half. The Cougars were also out-rebounded on both ends 24-18.
APU countered Art’s size by putting on a clinic from the three-point line early. The Cougars shot 38% with eight buckets from beyond the arc. Big contributions from junior guards Bryce Sloan and McKelary Robertson contributed to the Cougars’ offensive barrage from deep. Sloan finished with a season-high 17 points while Robertson added 11 after shooting 3-4 from downtown.
History was made tonight in Felix Event Center when Sloan found West for a three-pointer from the top of the key, marking his 1,000th career point. After the shot fell through the net, the crowd roared as the announcer broke the news about the career milestone. Heading into tonight’s game, APU head coach Peter Bond was aware that tonight could be a historical one.
“I knew, we had alerted them. I don’t think he knew beforehand, which is fun for him and a testament to the career he’s had so far,” Bond said.
West, who has been one of APU’s best scoring options this season, acknowledged the feat but was more focused on his team and their goals together.
“It’s really dope, it’s honestly a culmination of the program that I’m in. These guys put me in a great position to score and I’ve had good longevity. I’ve been able to do it in high school and college. It’s a pretty cool achievement, but [we have] bigger fish to fry, you know,” West said.
At halftime, the Cougars found themselves tied with the Urban Knights at 41. As the Cougars entered the locker room, Bond felt good about where his team stood.
“It was one of those games where even though it was tied, you felt pretty good about where you were at. They had played really well [Art], we had played well just had missed a lot of shots that we typically make. So when you enter halftime and that’s been the case and you’re still tied, you feel pretty good,” Bond said.
The Cougars increased physicality and defensive intensity fueled their second-half scoring push. On the defensive end, the Cougars held the Urban Knights to only 17 second-half points. As a result of their increased defensive pressure, the Cougars were able to add to their impressive offensive night scoring 34 points and shooting 41% from the three-point line.
Despite 17 lead changes throughout the first half, a continued emphasis on getting stops allowed APU to pull away. Big defensive stands in the post from freshman center Kaleb Taylor and seven rebounds from redshirt-sophomore Nate Kleppe proved that size was no longer an issue for the Cougars.
As they extended their lead, it became clear that the Cougars were having fun in this one. A late steal led to a breakaway dunk by sophomore guard Hayden Gray and brought the house down as the bench exploded with energy.
“It was a lot of fun out there. Academy of Art is a team that’s going to bring it every night and play with a lot of energy. We had great guys who stepped up to the challenge, and when you play alongside guys like this [West] it’s pretty easy to have fun and play well,” said Sloan.
The Cougars now improve to 16-6 overall and 11-4 in conference play. Tonight’s win helped lift the Cougars to second place in the PacWest Conference, only behind undefeated Point Loma. APU looks to continue its win streak tomorrow at home against Dominican University.