FRESNO, Calif. --- After coming up just short of a last-minute victory in Riverside, California Baptist University came out looking to take down Fresno Pacific on the road Saturday afternoon.
The Lancers defeated the Sunbirds 76-69 to improve to 5-8 overall, 3-4 in PacWest play, and split the season series. FPU drops to 3-9 on the season and 3-3 in conference action.
Kamille Diaz set a new career record after finishing the contest with 30 points (6-of-12 from beyond the arc, 10-of-12 free throws)—scoring 22 points in the second half alone. Erin Asher followed with a double-digit performance, registering 17 points off 4-of-6 shooting from distance and a 5-of-6 performance at the charity stripe.
Despite FPU grabbing the first basket of the afternoon, CBU took over the lead with a three-pointer from Asher and continued on to take a 12-6 lead, scoring all 12 points from beyond the arc.
The Sunbirds pushed to get back into the contest and battled to put the game within two at 12-10, but CBU extended its lead to 20-12 off an 8-2 run. Olivia Weber snagged an offensive board to finish the put-back at the 13:07 mark to cap the run.
CBU grabbed its highest lead of the first frame at 31-22 as Cassidy Mihalko finished two shots from the charity stripe.
With just under seven minutes remaining in the half, the Lancers started to unravel slightly on defense and allowed the Sunbirds to explode on an 11-4 run to only trail by two heading into halftime.
Looking to shake off the late rally, the Lancers opened the second half by stealing the ball away from FPU and scored the first points as Diaz finished a shot from distance to put CBU up 38-33.
FPU responded with back-to-back field goals to put the score within one and continued on to score two free throws to take over the upper hand, 39-38, with a lot of basketball left to be played with 17:40 left on the clock.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Diaz sank her fourth three-pointer to put CBU in front at 41-39. She opened up the Lancers’ lead by driving to the basket at 16:39.
FPU came knocking on CBU’s door, but the Lancers forced the Sunbirds to miss point-blank shots. The Lancers couldn’t control the rebounds, however, giving FPU extra chances offensively. FPU took advantage of the opportunity, drawing a foul and sinking both free throws to take a one-point lead once again at 44-43.
Determined to not let the game get out of hand, CBU responded with a seven-point run to reclaim its lead at 50-44 with just over 11 minutes left in the game.
Trying to maintain their lead, the Lancers keyed in on defense by not utilizing full-court pressure to keep the Sunbirds in front of them. On the other side of the court, FPU started to turn up the pressure as the game continued to wind down.
Still in front by seven points heading down the stretch, CBU grabbed another nine-point lead of the night at 63-54 after Ashley Jones completed a layup off an assist from Asher.
Diaz gave the Lancers their biggest lead of the night after finishing two free throws to put CBU ahead 67-56—the first time the lead broke into double figures by either team.
With one minute remaining and CBU in front by eight points, FPU bucketed two points and proceeded to turn on the full-court press. In hopes of slowing down the Lancers and getting the ball back, the Sunbirds resulted to fouling.
The strategy didn’t work in the home squad’s favor, however, as Asher, Diaz and Megan Brown combined to finish seven of 10 free throw attempts, securing the 76-69 victory.
CBU continues on its trip up north, taking on another familiar PacWest foe on Monday. The Lancers take on Notre Dame de Namur at 5 p.m., hoping to sweep the series after defeating the Argonauts 67-59 last week at home.