SAN DIEGO, Calif. --- Not only was a PacWest Tournament Championship on the line, but a trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament. With only one team able to advance out of the PacWest to the championship tournament, the highest of stakes were on the line Saturday night.
No. 1 seed Academy of Art came out in the first half demonstrating its size and powered through the first 20 minutes to grab a significant lead over California Baptist University. The Lancers tried to rally back in the second, but the lead proved too much to overcome as the Urban Knights held out for an 88-76 victory.
CBU ends its season with a 16-12 overall record, while ArtU lives to play another day, entering the NCAA Division II tournament with a 23-7 record.
Three Lancers finished the night scoring in double figures, led by the duo of Ashley Jones and Jasmine Sauser. Both finished with 20 points, with 6-for-16 shooting from Jones and 6-for-13 from Sauser. Kamille Diaz added 17 points off a 5-for-15 performance on the night. Both Diaz and Jones earned spots on the all-tournament team.
Despite opening the game exchanging baskets with the regular-season champions, shots wouldn't fall for the Lancers early on. Turnovers also plagued CBU, falling victim to an 11-0 run before two free throws from Sauser ended the scoring drought. Meanwhile, ArtU had built up a 26-9 cushion, looking to coast through the half.
Desperate to battle back into the game, the Lancers closed out the half with three threes--from Sauser, Cassidy Mihalko and Jones--but still had their work cut out for them as they headed into the locker room trailing 52-31.
With 20 more minutes to extend its season, CBU started the first four minutes with three shots from the perimeter. Jones sank the first two, including one off a Diaz steal, to cut the score to 55-37. Diaz followed with her first three of the night, rattling one through the hoop.
The Urban Knights shook off the pressure, however, maintaining their double-digit lead.
CBU looked to slice into the lead and grabbed two points from the charity stripe from Jones after Mihalko made two hustle plays to keep the ball in the Lancers' possession. Shortly after, Diaz drove through traffic to cut the advantage back into the teens at 70-51 and just over 11 minutes to play.
Heading down the stretch, the Lancers kept pushing and put some pressure on the Urban Knights in the final four minutes. Trailing by 20, CBU finished the game on an 11-3 run to put the end result at 88-76 in favor of ArtU.