The Cougars keep their 10-game win streak alive after stellar performances on both ends. 

The Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team took care of business in the first matchup of the Cornerstone Cup after a 67-50 victory over Biola at the Felix Event Center on Saturday afternoon. It was an offensive clinic in Azusa led by junior forward Kelly Heimburger with 21 points, and junior guard Amayah Kirkman with 17.

Right from the jump, it was apparent that APU came ready to play, forcing jump balls on both of Biola’s first two offensive possessions. Following a career night earlier in the week, Heimburger remained a focal point for the Cougars on offense as she scored or assisted on all of APU’s first three possessions. 

When asked about whether her career night carried over momentum into this game, Heimburger admitted today was a clean slate.  

“I kind of forgot about it honestly. I think our main focus was on the team win,” she said.

An active defense and a fast-paced offense got APU out to a quick 9-2 lead. The Eagles full-court pressure proved to be no problem for the Cougars’ backcourt which led to 12 fast break points in the first half. 

“They press pretty much all the time until it’s not working for them,” said APU head coach T.J. Hardeman. “We have so many good ball handlers we’re a very hard team to press because it’s not just one player it’s a bunch. They were excited to face it and attack it.” 

Senior guard Paige Uyehara added to her highlight reel and split the defense to end the first quarter with a crafty left-handed finish making it 22-8. 

The second quarter continued the Cougars’ hot streak as Kirkman opened the quarter with a fast break three in transition. Defensive intensity helped APU jump out to a 37-15 lead at halftime. Despite a 22-point lead at the half, coach Hardeman was adamant about not getting complacent. 

“Coming into the game we really talked about focusing on different things and each play,” he said. “So we said, ‘Hey we can’t focus now and scoreboard watch. You’ve got to focus on each play’.”

The third quarter began with a quick steal by Uyehara before finding Heimburger for a midrange jumper. Despite the hot start, APU went through a dry spell in the third quarter, allowing Biola to begin closing the gap. Their offensive drought was ended by sophomore guard Audrey Sayoc who shook her defender with a crossover before a nifty right-handed finish. 

The Cougars remained in the driver’s seat heading into the fourth quarter up 51-32. There was palpable electricity in the gym to start the fourth quarter as a deep Kirkman three was quickly answered by the Eagles to make it 55-40. Despite winning the third and fourth quarter, it was too little too late for the Eagles as APU finished up 17. 

This dominant performance was even more impressive considering the Cougars were without starting forward and second-leading rebounder, Tylee Manuel. Despite this, the Cougar bench was able to rise to the occasion and provide valuable minutes. 

“It shows how dominant we can be having our bench players coming off the bench and really adding to the game,” Kirkman said. “It’s nice to see that we have a good set of reliable players and we find each other and flow pretty well so that’s exciting.” 

In a rivalry game with a win streak on the line, the Cougars’ preparation was no different. After a 72-79 loss in their last meeting last season, APU was out for revenge. Coach Hardeman even had the team watch the film from last year’s game as a reminder. 

“We prepared to protect the house every game. But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a little bit extra,” admitted Hardeman. “That happened last year to us, let’s do it to them. And so that was a nice feeling. You know basketball, anyone can be having a good game so it was nice to see everyone focused and ready to go.” 

The Cougars remain undefeated in conference play and move to 14-3 overall as they prepare to host an 11-3 Fresno Pacific team on Jan. 18.