This article was originally published in ZU News.
The women’s basketball team improved to 16-2 on the season and a conference best 7-1 record with a 75-61 win against Biola on Jan. 6. This was their first game against Biola as part of the Cornerstone Cup.
The Cougars drained a total of ten three-point baskets in the game, led by senior guards Abbigail Goodsell and Tara Casey, who both had four.
“We usually take that many three pointers in a game. They usually don’t. They were making them and that’s what was keeping them in the game. We would have liked to not let them make as many, but in a rivalry game, that’s going to happen,” head coach T.J. Hardeman said. “I was proud of our girls. They grinded through the whole game.”
Although the team shot well from behind the arc, they missed a lot of shots in the second half, shooting 32.9 percent overall.
“We didn’t have the execution we wanted to have at times on plays. Even when those plays broke down, we got after the ball with 14 offensive rebounds in the second half,” Hardeman said.
The team was led by Goodsell and sophomore guard Savanna Hanson, who had 17 points apiece. Hanson also had 11 rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
“We would have liked to beat them by more, but we were just happy that we’re taking the win,” Hanson said. “We can take the good things we did tonight, mainly threes, and find the other stuff we still need to work on.”
Casey and Gabrielle Kaiser also helped the team get the win. Casey had 15 points while Kaiser had nine points with a team-leading two blocks.
“The game went really well. We worked hard. We knew their plays. We worked together as a team and had some ups and downs,” Kaiser said.
With the win, the Cougars increased their win streak to five games, but Kaiser said the streak isn’t important to the team.
“The streak doesn’t matter to us. We’re focusing on each game, going game by game. We have to come out with our best effort each time,” Kaiser said.
One of the keys to the wins has been defense. During the streak, the offense has been averaging 85 points a game, while their defense has allowed a stifling 61 points a game on average.
“We’re putting our defense first. Even in games where we don’t shoot really well, our defense shuts them down and we get the win,” Hanson said.
This was the first time the team has played Biola as part of the new Cornerstone Cup, which will be awarded to the school with the most overall points through different sports.
“This is the biggest crowd that we’ve had all year,” Kaiser said. “It feels like a rivalry already, not quite as big as CBU yet, but it will get there.”
Hardeman stated that he enjoyed the competitive atmosphere and the chance to play a school like Biola.
“They’re great people. It’s good to know that they’ve got the same goal in developing young women and men of God,” Hardeman said. “We want to compete and beat them and they want to beat us too, but when we’re done, we’re all brothers and sisters.”
Prior to the game, APU was ranked 18th in the NCAA Division II rankings.
“That just means we need to work harder,” Kaiser said. “We’re not number one yet.”
The Cougars will prepare for another rivalry game as they will head to Riverside to take on California Baptist on Jan. 13.