This article was originally published in ZU News.
All the Azusa Pacific men’s basketball team wanted was one more chance. It seems that they are making the most out of that final opportunity.
The No. 7-seeded Cougars won their first-round match of the playoffs against the No. 2 seed Dixie State, 69-65. The Cougars were led by junior guard Darien McClain and senior forward Petar Kutlesic with 21 and 18 points respectively.
Last week, APU lost to California Baptist in the PacWest postseason tournament. Even with the loss, the 20-10 Cougars were selected as part of the eight team NCAA Division II West Regional Tournament.
This win was particularly big for the Cougars because it keeps them alive in the postseason, while also snapping Dixie State’s 17-game win streak and ending their season earlier than expected. Dixie finished first in PacWest play, with a record of 23-6.
Kutlesic helped seal the win for the Cougars by scoring four points in the final two minutes of the game. He finished the night with a team leading 10 rebounds.
With everything on the line and every team in a win-or-go-home situation, the Cougars will look to seek vengeance and redemption against one of their biggest rivals tomorrow.
With the win, the Cougars move on to the second round of the tournament where they will face the No. 3 seed, California Baptist, at 5 p.m. on Saturday. This will be the fourth time that the two teams will meet this season, and the Lancers are the only PacWest opponent that APU has yet to beat this year.