AZUSA, Calif. --- A veteran-laden Azusa Pacific looked every bit the team that seems destined for its 17th straight NAIA National Championship appearance next month in dismantling California Baptist University, 72-58, Tuesday night at the Felix Event Center.
The loss drops the Lancers to 12-12 overall, 6-9 GSAC. Meanwhile, the NAIA's fifth-ranked Cougars improve to 22-3, 13-2, keeping their stranglehold on second place in the conference.
Brannon Bradley led the Lancers with 14 points, scoring eight in the first half when the team exchanged 10 lead changes. In fact, he had the Lancers' only points in a 10:40 second half span that enabled the Cougars to stretch a seven-point halftime lead into a comfortable 29-point advantage.
Danny Nugent led the Cougars with 14 points, scoring 10 in the second half. Reggie Owens finished with 12 points.
In a rivalry that has been as entertaining as any other in the southland the past five seasons, Tuesday's game was anything but a normal CBU-Azusa Pacific contest. The Cougars used a 13-4 run to end the first half and a 23-3 run to start the second half to turn what was a tight first half into an abnormal blowout.
Eight of the previous nine games have been decided by seven points or less. After Caleb Burgess hit a 3-pointer with eight seconds left in the first half to give the Cougars a 37-30 halftime lead, the Lancers never got within seven the rest of the night.
Azusa Pacific scored 23 of the first 26 points of the second half, including 15 straight and opened a 60-33 lead on a Marshall Johnson dunk with 9:16 left. An Evans lay-up momentarily stemmed the tide with the Lancers' first points in more than seven minutes.
Evans' bucket ended the Cougars' 36-7 run over a 16:09 span that put this one away.
The Cougars took their largest lead, 66-37, with 6:09 to play.
For 19:52 seconds, CBU went toe-to-toe with the Cougars, exchanging leads 10 times. The Lancers scored eight straight points, buoyed by 3-pointers from Aleksander Milovic and Jerome Lowe and led 16-9 with 13:17 left.
They led 26-24 with 5:21 left when reserve James Staniland sank three free throws to start a 13-4 Cougar run to end the half in which Burgess buried his triple with eight seconds left.
The Lancers shot 50 percent (22-for-44) from the floor and were 7-for-14 from beyond the arc, but they committed 20 turnovers that the Cougars converted into 25 points.