The Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team is on a 10-game winning streak and is expected to extend that streak over its last three games of the regular season before entering the PacWest tournament. The Cougars are currently ranked 18th.
On Feb. 19, the women demolished Concordia 103-44 at home as they honored seven players on Senior Night.
Senior point guard Kelly Hardeman scored 25 points overall and hit seven three-pointers, one basket short from tying the school record. Senior forward Miriam Zabinsky scored 22 points and sophomore guard Joelle Tampien scored 21.
The Cougars currently hold a 22-3 record as they press their way forward with eyes looking toward the PacWest tournament and the NCAA championship.
However, in order to do this, the women know that they have to stay focused in their pursuit of the end goal.
“We don’t want to get too big-headed and be like, ‘We have this awesome record, [so] we don’t need to work hard.’ No, we still have to work hard every day in practice,” junior guard Jessica Beeler said.
This is the longest winning streak that the team has seen since the 2011-12 season. Despite this, the Cougars remain focused.
“It is kind of stressed on our team that, once we win, it’s on to the next game,” said Hardeman. “The next game is just as important.”
Hardeman is one of the team captains and has been one of the most influential people in the success of this year’s team. She identifies her strength on the team as being the consistent calm that the women can look to and be reassured by at any moment.
“I can’t go into every game and have a career high game, but being able to go into every game and have [my teammates] know that I’m there for them and that I’m going to work hard is what matters,” Hardeman said.
It is not only the undeniable teamwork that bonds these Cougar women together, it is their adaptability, their press, their speed, their willingness and their knowledge of the dynamics between each other that makes this team unique.
The goal has been set. League champions, regional champions and national champions. These are the titles that the women want to earn.
Head coach TJ Hardeman, who recently earned his 250th career win as head coach and won an NAIA title in 2011, has no doubt that this team can bring home a national title.
With the amount of talent, focus and connection between the teammates, Hardeman believes this team has the right strengths to meet those goals.
“It’s something that has been developing, it’s not something that you can have happen in one season or two seasons,” Coach Hardeman said. “It’s something that happens over the course of time…You can’t make a great team overnight. You’ve got to let them have their highs and lows, go through stuff and figure out how they are going to work through the problems.”
The team, currently ranked 18th, heads to Hawaii to take on PacWest foes BYU-Hawaii on Feb. 23, Chaminade on Feb. 25 and Hawaii-Hilo on Feb. 27 to finish the regular season and to push the winning streak to 13.
*Printed as of 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23