By Tim Peterson
(Riverside) -Azusa Pacific fell behind 11-2 early and missed some key shots late in a 75-69 loss to Cal Baptist Saturday night in Riverside.
The Cougars tied it at 68 when Darien McClain made a driving layup with 1:55 left. But they managed just one point the rest of the way while the Lancers made five big free throws down the stretch to ice it.
Cal Baptist jumped out to an 11-2 lead out of the gate and carried that nine point lead to the half to lead 39-30.
The Cougars cut it to five at 25-20 as Ben Taufahema knocked down a pair of threes before the Lancers extended it back to nine.
Kalidou Diouf led Cal Baptist with 13 points in the first half, Jason Todd had eight and Dejon Davis contributed six. Diouf was a force inside as he also pulled down six rebounds.
For APU Mandrell Worthy was six of 12 from the field to lead the Cougars with 13 points. Nobody else was in double figures for Azusa Pacific. Taufahema finished the half with six.
The Lancers outrebounded the Cougars in the first half 25-18.
CBU led the entire half.
Azusa Pacific outscored CBU 15-6 to open the second half to cut the Lancers lead to just one at 46-45 with 13:12 left. Worthy’s jumper tied it at 47 and Petar Kutlesic’s layup with 11:50 left gave the Cougs their first lead at 49-47.
Cal Baptist responded with a 15-5 run capped by a Gabe Taylor three to go up 62-54 with 7:33 remaining.
The Cougars answered right back with an 8-0 run that Kutlesic finished with a lay up to tie it 62.
It was still tied at 64 with 3:06 left.
After McClain tied it at 68 Diouf scored inside to give the Lancers the lead.
McClain missed the front end of a one and one and CBU then iced it as Jordan Heading and Todd both knocked down two free throws to put it away.
“I think we got away from some of the things that we really wanted to do both defensively and offensively and we rushed some things on offense which created some good offense for them, but we stuck with it” said Cal Baptist head coach Rick Croy. “This team digs deep when things get tough. And that’s really what you want to be about. It’s going to be a 40 minute game and tonight proved to be. It was a great environment and we’re really glad we were able to come through.”
For Azusa Pacific Worthy kept the Cougs in the game all night with 22, McClain finished with 13 and Kutlesic had 11.
Diouf led all scorers with 23 for Cal Baptist while Taylor and Todd each had 12.
Cal Baptist improved to 13-3 overall and 6-2 in the PacWest. APU dropped to 12-5 and 7-2 – just 1/2 game ahead of Cal Baptist in the conference.