During the women’s basketball team’s 72-42 victory over Westmont, junior Kelly Heimburger scored her 1,000th career point.

What was only a five-point game at halftime turned into a 72-42 win for Azusa Pacific and a memorable night for junior forward Kelly Heimburger as she became the third active player to eclipse the 1000-point mark.

The Cougars who led for nearly 90% of the game, outscored its opponents 42-17 in the second half alone while forcing 25 turnovers.

With the win, the Cougars extended their winning streak to nine and now hold a 7-10 PacWest record and 13-3 on the season; a perfect send-off as the team heads into its rivalry game against Biola on Saturday.

Coming into Wednesday’s game versus Westmont, Kelly Heimburger only needed two points to join the special club. The 6’0 junior eclipsed the mark by halftime and finished the game with 12 points to join teammates Paige Uyehara and Molly Whitmore.

In becoming the third person on the team to score 1,000 points, the depth and talent of this program were even more visible that evening. Heimburger shared, “It speaks to how complete our team is in terms of scoring. We have a lot of talented players who all get along well and it just shows how competitive our program is now and over the years.”

Although Heimburger leads the PacWest Conference in scoring with 241 points just 16 games into the season, her late success has been three years in the making. 

In the 2021-2022 season, she averaged 11.8 points per game while starting in only 13 games of the COVID-19-abbreviated season. The following year, she served as a key reserve averaging just 7.4 points per game. In the 2022-2023 season, Heimburger averaged 11.7 points per game while averaging 31 minutes per game with 31 game appearances. 

Then, the 2023-2024 season rolled around, and coming into the game against Westmont, she was averaging 15.3 points per game featuring a career-high 27-point game versus Point Loma.

When asked what her latest benchmark proved about her role on the team head coach T.J. Hardeman shared “that she’s been consistent, she’s been good every year, she’s improved every year.” 

Not only has Heimburger been a critical piece to the Cougars’ offense over her four seasons so far but she’s fully embodied the opportunity to be a leader and playmaker. While you can often count on her to knock down a critical three-pointer, you will also find her sprinting back on defense to get a big block the very next play. In fact, she led the team with five blocks while adding four rebounds, three assists and five steals in Wednesday’s win—telling of her role not only as a scorer but as a team player as well.

Hardeman shared that often talks about the players being “superstars” in their roles on the team.

For Heimburger that evening, the role was not to score 20 points for her team or even try to eclipse that special benchmark (as she shared she had no idea until they announced it at halftime). Instead, her role was to defend the Warriors’ best player, who is currently sixth in the Conference in scoring. And she did just that by not allowing her to score a single point on Wednesday night.

“She’s incredible and she’s super humble. If she was selfish, she would have 2,000 points. But she’s not selfish…she’s a joy to have on this team,” said Hardeman.

While the APU women’s basketball team has seen lots of success in recent years, this season the team is on track to continue that tradition. The Cougars are currently expected to win their third consecutive Conference title and the PacWest tournament.

Heimburger was a part of both those teams prior which finished with a 17-2 conference and 25-4 overall record in 2021-2022 and 18-2 and 26-5 records last year. In both years, however, the team fell short of winning the West Region and further Nationals which is something Heimburger would love to accomplish alongside her teammates including seniors Paige Uyehara, Molly Whitmore, Kayden Casey and Tylee Manuel.

Additional goals include remaining undefeated in Conference play but she shares that the team focuses on working in baby steps.

Before they can reach those goals of lifting the West Regional trophy or making it to the National stage, Azusa Pacific must first take down crosstown rival, Biola on Saturday. 

The Eagles are 9-7 overall with a 5-3 conference record yet they did hand the Cougars one of their two inner-conference losses just last season.

When reflecting on the game that evening and looking ahead to Saturday’s big matchup, Hardeman shares that he expects the Cougars to “play to our potential and do what we do.” He, along with the rest of the team, were left with a sour feeling headed into halftime only up by five points but credits their second-half success to a shift in focus which helped them pull away quickly. That focus from the last two quarters will be crucial to maintain going into the weekend game.

Tip-off for Saturday’s Cornerstone Cup game is at 2:15 pm and students are encouraged to wear their ZU shirts. So come pack the house and cheer on this women’s team as they look to achieve yet another remarkable season led by Heimburger and the crew.