A 12-point run on points off turnovers in the second half lifted the Azusa Pacific Cougars to a 74-54 win over University of Victoria Vikes in men’s basketball exhibition play on Dec. 30 in Azusa, California.
UVic, ranked No. 5 in the CIS with an 8-0 record in conference play, finished their late-December exhibition tour against three NAIA schools with a 1-2 record. They are now 10-7 overall in both conference and non-conference play and host the No. 4 nationally ranked Saskatchewan Huskies on Jan. 6 at 8 p.m. and No. 6 nationally ranked Alberta Golden Bears on Jan. 7 at 7 p.m.
UVIc defeated the Biola Eagles 64-60 on Dec. 29, but fell 87-64 to the Concordia Eagles in the NAIA California Tour.
“Victoria is a good team, so forcing them into 28 turnovers by playing the type of team defence we did really helped us dictate most everything in the game on both sides of the floor,” said Cougars head coach Justin Leslie.
After Victoria pulled within a point of Azusa Pacific twice within the first three minutes of the second half, the second time closing the gap to 33-32 with 17:06 remaining in the game, the Cougars forced turnovers on the next six Vikes possessions, opening up the game to lead 45-32 in a matter of less than three minutes.
Cougar Marshall Johnson led all scorers with 21 points, hitting seven-of-10 shots including both of his three-point attempts. Anthony Johnson was one of three other Cougars in double figures, registering 13 points along with a game-high six rebounds.
Azusa Pacific answered both of Victoria’s first two scores, and Dunson completed a three-point play just 2:11 into the game that sparked an 11-2 run that gave Azusa Pacific the lead for good. The Cougars pushed the first-half lead to 10 points after holding Victoria to just three points over an eight-minute stretch midway through the period. The Vikes made just one-of-eight shots during the stretch and committed eight turnovers, the last of which led to a Marshall Johnson jumper that gave Azusa Pacific a 21-11 lead with 6:23 to play in the first half.
The only basket of the game for Vikes guard Vijay Dhillon was a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer that trimmed the Cougars’ halftime lead to 30-25. After Anthony Johnson opened the second-half scoring to extend the lead to 32-25, the Vikes scored six in a row to cut the lead to a single point at 31-30. An Anthony Johnson layup was answered by a pair of free throws, making the score 33-32 to set the stage for Azusa Pacific’s 12-0 run.
When UVic trimmed the lead back to single digits at 45-36 with 12:31 to play, Monroe scored five consecutive points in a quick 7-0 run that got the margin back into double figures for the rest of the game. The Cougars ended the game with a 9-2 run over the final five minutes, making the 20-point final margin its largest lead of the contest.
Michael Acheampong was Victoria’s only double-digit scorer, finishing with 12 points, while all of the 11 other players who participated scored between two and six points. The Vikes also posted a 32-25 rebounding edge.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 11-2, while Victoria wraps up its three-game set of non-conference games against GSAC opponents with a 10-7 overall record heading back into Canada West play.
UVic Men’s Basketball California Tour
Wed. Dec. 28: UVic vs. Concordia Eagles (L 87-64)
Thurs. Dec. 29: UVic vs. Biola Eagles (W 64-60)
Fri. Dec. 30: UVic vs. Azusa Pacific (L 74-54)