By Tim Peterson
(Glendora) – Azusa Pacific was outscored 17-7 in the fourth quarter and fell to Humboldt State 66-60 Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Division II Women’s Tournament at Felix Event Center.
The Cougars entered the final quarter up 53-49 but Humboldt State went on a 9-0 run to go up 62-58 with less than three minutes remaining and maintained the lead the rest of the way. APU shot 3 of 18 from the floor in the fourth quarter including 0-7 from three point land and it proved to be the Cougars undoing.
While Azusa Pacific couldn’t buy one from long distance Madeline Hatch hit three big three pointers in the fourth for the Lumberjacks to spark the rally. Those were the only shots she hit on the night but they came at the best possible time.
“She’s a phenomenal shooter and as of late she hasn’t really been shooting the ball that well and they came out and played a zone for a good portion of the game,” said Humboldt State Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson about Hatch. “So that’s one reason why we had Maddie (Hatch) out there and I was glad that she continued to shoot the ball and have the confidence to let it go. Those were huge timely buckets for us.”
APU scored the first five points of the game but Humboldt State then went on a 17-0 run to take a 12 point lead and a ten point lead at 24-14 heading into the second quarter. Isamar Conde lit it up for 11 points in the first quarter including three from beyond the arc. Tyla Turner added seven for the Lumberjacks in the first.
The Cougars turned it around in the second quarter. They went on a 7-0 run to open the period and outscored Humboldt 22-9 to take a three point halftime lead. Gabrielle Kaiser had a big quarter with 10 points and former Monrovia star Gina Henderson knocked down a pair of threes – one of which gave APU the lead at 34-32 with 1:07 left in the half.
The two teams played each other even in the third with Azusa Pacific increasing the lead to four after three. Then came the decisive fourth quarter.
“The biggest thing is we didn’t make shots. We had a lot of good looks but just didn’t make them,” said APU Coach T.J. Hardeman. “And if you don’t make shots that’s kind of what the game is about.”
Kaiser led the Cougars with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Zoe March and Daylee Hanson each had 10 and Henderson finished with 9.
For Humboldt State Conde led all scorers with 22 and was 4 of 5 from the land of plenty. She also pulled down 12 rebounds. “Well Coach always tells me to keep shooting and like she said, having a big on me I always have that advantage of them not really wanting to come out on me,” Conde said.
Tyler Turner had 14 and Riann Thayer 11 points and 12 boards for the Jacks. Humboldt State held the rebounding advantage 47-42.
“Obviously this is a great win for our program. I’m just really proud of the team. We knew Azusa Pacific was going to continue to fight and they were going to continue to come back. But I just thought our team was extremely resilient,” added Bento-Jackson.
While the Lumberjacks advance, Azusa Pacific finishes the year with 27-5 record overall and a PacWest Conference Championship.