Cougars Rally Falls Short, 70-67

Michael Saba scored 13 points for the Cougars. (Photo by Duane Barker).

By Tim Peterson

(Azusa) – Azusa Pacific cut a 16-point deficit down to one with just under two minutes left but couldn’t get over the hump in a 70-67 loss to Hawaii Pacific Thursday night at Felix Event Center.

Ken West led the Cougars with 19 points. (Photo by Duane Barker).

Hawaii Pacific made some big free throws down the stretch and held on to beat the Cougars. Ken West nailed a three pointer for APU as the clock hit zeroes but it was too little too late.   

George Reidy finished in double figures with 11. (Photo by Duane Barker).

Azusa Pacific went on a 5-0 run to open the game but Hawaii Pacific answered with an 8-0 run to take the lead. The Sharks maintained that lead the rest of the way.

Melo Sanchez hit consecutive threes for Hawaii Pacific as the Sharks extended the margin to 18-10 with just over 10 minutes left in the first half. 

The Cougars cut it to 18-14 but the Sharks went on another run – this time 7-0 – to go up 25-14 with 4:17 left. 

Hawaii Pacific took a 32-21 lead into the half. 

Sanchez led the Sharks with 12 points in the first half including three three pointers. Matthew Van Komen, who stands 7 feet 4 inches, had 10 points and eight rebounds in the half. Van Komen threw down a slam with less than two minutes left in the half to put the Sharks up 16.    

For the Cougars, Michael Saba had seven, George Reidy five and Ken West four.

Azusa Pacific came out firing in the second half. Saba, Ethan Speaker and West all nailed three pointers early in the half as the Cougars cut the lead to six at 45-39.

Later in the half West hit another three to spark a rally and the Cougs were down by just four at 53-49 with 9:13 left. 

But every time APU made a run Hawaii Pacific had an answer. After George Reidy hit a driving lay-up with 1:51 left to cut the Sharks advantage to 59-58, Maj Dusanic and Van Komen threw down back-to-back slams to increase the lead back to five. 

During one offensive sequence Van Komen yanked down three straight offensive rebounds to keep the Cougars at bay. 

Sanchez and Dusanic converted key free throws in the final minute to ice it. 

For Hawaii Pacific, Sanchez led the team with 19 points. He was six of eight from the charity stripe and hit three treys. Dusanic had 14 points and Van Komen had 14 points and 16 rebounds. 

West led Azusa Pacific with 19 points and Saba had 13. Reidy and Speaker each finished with 11. The Cougars struggled from the floor shooting just 10 for 34 (29 percent) from three-point land and 36 percent from the field overall. It proved to be their undoing. 

Azusa Pacific fell to 9-16 overall and 8-10 in the PacWest Conference with the loss. Hawaii Pacific improved to 16-7 and 11-4. 

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