Biola hosted Azusa Pacific University in a much-anticipated Cornerstone Cup matchup in Chase Gymnasium on Saturday. The Eagles were hoping to push their win streak at home against APU to two following last February’s thrilling 73-70 victory. Saturday night, however, followed a far different script. Biola started the first half slow and could not claw their way back into it as the Cougars took a big 73-59 victory.
Sophomore guard Michael Bagatourian was one of the only bright spots for Biola, as he led all scorers with 24 points as well as six rebounds. Senior guard Trevor Treinen chipped in 16 points.
“They got way too many offensive rebounds. We missed too many free throws. They just outplayed us,” Bagatourian said.
Biola struggled to score early in the first half, turning the ball over several times and allowing the Cougars to take a quick 13-4 lead. Senior forward Levi Auble entered the game and made an immediate impact with a beautiful jump shot. APU began to connect from behind the arc, stretching the lead to 22-12 on a three-pointer.
Sophomore guard Will Shannon came off the bench and sparked the Eagles with three quick points to close the gap to 27-20. But the three-pointers continued to rain down for the Cougars and APU closed out the half leading 37-23.
“It was a struggle. We shot a poor percentage [and] I don’t think our defense was as good as it needed to be. I think we had some spurts, but I think we got too satisfied when we saw the score and we were only down by a couple,” Treinen said.
The second half started much like the first, as APU went on an 8-0 run, including a thunderous dunk from the Cougars’ Selom Mawugbe to put his team on top 45-23. They continued to pull further ahead, as Mawugbe converted a three-point play for a 53-30 lead.
Bagatourian began to pick up the pace, converting a layup and blocking an APU shot to shift the momentum. Unfortunately, every time the Eagles would close the gap, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own to keep Biola from really coming close.
Bagatourian refused to give up, nailing three consecutive three-pointers. By then, though, the gap had already been widened to 72-55. Although APU had sealed the win well before then, Treinen ended the game on a high note with a one-handed dunk in the closing seconds.
“You play your best when there’s a lot of attention on a game, so I don’t think that was a factor. I just think they outplayed us,” said head coach Dave Holmquist said.
Biola (6-5, 2-3 PacWest) gets a break before resuming play the day after New Year’s at home against Point Loma Nazarene University at 7:30 p.m.
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