Steady improvement gives Azusa a ‘balancing act’
VANCOUVER, WA For the second straight season, Azusa Pacific University enters NCATA Nationals with a 3-4 regular-season record, and both times the Cougars were narrowly defeated at home to wrap up the regular season. This year, it was a 2.035-point loss to the undefeated defending NCATA champion Oregon Ducks that dropped Azusa Pacific below .500 heading into nationals.
In a pair of home dual meets against Baylor and Oregon, the Cougars posted average scores of 272.46, but they averaged more than 10 points higher away from home. In three regular-season performances on the road, Azusa Pacific averaged better than 284 points, an improvement of more than 11.6 points.
In a late-season East Coast trip to take on Maryland, Fairmont State, and Quinnipiac, Azusa Pacific posted its best two scores of the season, although the Cougars got just one win to show for it, a win over Quinnipiac by the narrow margin of just sixteen-hundredths of a point. The final margin of that matchup was the narrowest regular-season victory in the brief two-year history of NCATA competition. Only last year’s national championship matchup between Oregon and Maryland provided a closer finish (.129) between two programs in a head-to-head setting.
Of the NCATA’s six-school membership, Azusa Pacific is the only NAIA institution to offer the sport. The school, which has claimed seven consecutive NAIA Directors’ Cup trophies signifying it as the NAIA’s top overall athletics program, was accepted last summer into NCAA Division II and entered the three-year membership process this year.