Fresno - The Azusa Pacific University Cougars, smarting from a rare home loss on Tuesday night to the San Diego Christian Hawks, lived up tho their No. 2 NAIA national ranking with a 75-61 win over the host Sunbirds tonight in the Special Events Center.
The Cougars built a 14-point, 41-27, lead in the first 20 minutes, then traded baskets with the Sunbirds in the second half.
"We knew they were a good team and we knew they would be tough," said FPU coach Clark Sheehy. "We competed, but we did not execute in the first half. We dug ourselves a hole to deep to get out of and you just can't do that against a team that is that talented."
A pair of Rudy Lopez free throws with 4:46 to play did get the Sunbirds to within six points (63-57), but the Cougars slammed the door a moment later with a Demario Butler 3-pointer.
Josh Reisman led APU (17-2, 8-1) with 18 points and five rebounds. Butler finished with 14 points and Tristan King chipped in with 10.
Lesego Molebatsi led FPU (10-6, 3-5) with 21 points and eight rebounds. Lopez finished with 17 points.
FPU will head for El Cajon Saturday to face 15th-ranked San Diego Christian. The Hawks had tonight off after Tuesday's 62-59 win over the Cougars in Azusa.
The Sunbirds return to the Special Event Center next Tuesday when they host Hope International. Tip-off time is 7:30 p.m.
#2 Azusa Pacific: 17-2, 8-1
Sunbirds: 10-6, 3-5
* Livestats from The Special Events Center
* Tonight's game is being televised by Cable Channel 14. It will be aired at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, January 21, and Sunday, January 22.
* Sporting News Radio will broadcast the game. If you can't make to the Special Events Center pick up the play-by-play call of Marcas Grant on KXEX 1550 (AM) at 7:25.
Tonight's contest was the 76th in a series that dates back to February 11, 1966. The Cougars now hold a 61-15 advantage, including a 32-7 edge in GSAC games. The Cougars have now won the last 29th consecutive contests. FPU's last win was in the old Cougar Dome on February 11, 1992. FPU's last win over the Cougars in the Special Events Center was February 12, 1991 (65-60).
Saturday, January 21 (4:30) - The Sunbirds will be in El Cajon to face the #15 San Diego Christian College Hawks (formerly Christian Heritage).
Next Home Game
Tuesday, January 24 (7:30) - The Sunbirds will host the Hope International University Royals.
Fresno Pacific University offers undergraduate and graduate programs that stress solid academic preparation and a strong ethical foundation. Each year more than 2,000 traditional and adult students attend classes on the 42-acre main campus in southeast Fresno or centers in Visalia and Bakersfield. The university also reaches 12,000 students across the nation and around the world through professional development studies programs. The only four-year Christian university in the Central Valley, FPU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and ranked in the top quarter among Western universities master's category by U.S. News & World Report.