Spurgin’s Double-Double Not Enough as Concordia Beats HPU in PacWest Quarterfinals


HONOLULU — Turns out, the third time was not the charm.

For the third time this season, the Concordia University Irvine Golden Eagles defeated the Hawai’i Pacific University Sharks, 55-48, this time in the 2023 PacWest Tournament quarterfinals.

HPU graduate center Abby Spurgin, the 2022-23 PacWest Player of the Year, had herself another day at the office with 19 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. Junior guard Haley Masaki chipped in 10 points before fouling out in the final seconds.

Jasmine Rachel led the way for the Golden Eagles, who move on to the semifinals where they will take on Dominican, the conference’s second-best regular season squad. Teagan Thurman, the sophomore transfer who earned third-team All-PacWest honors, had herself a nice afternoon with 12 points and seven rebounds.

The Sharks got going early, putting an emphasis on getting the ball down low to the conference’s player of the year. Spurgin did an impressive job sealing defenders in the post and got plenty of looks as HPU force-fed the big touches in the paint. 

Spurgin’s contributions helped lead the Sharks to a 13-12 first quarter advantage, but turnovers in the second quarter by the PacWest’s sixth seed helped CUI surge ahead. The Golden Eagles led, 20-19, as the teams headed to the locker rooms for the halftime break. 

Despite trailing at half, the Sharks defense had been up to the task for the first two quarters. HPU had held CUI’s All-PacWest first-team selection Jasmine Rachal to eight points on 4-of-15 shooting from the floor. Rachal was visibly frustrated at times as she struggled with her touch in the opening 20 minutes. 

Though play was even through about six minutes of action in the second half, every miss by the Sharks felt increasingly crucial. When CUI guard Kendall Jackson knocked down the game’s first 3-pointer to take a 29-27 lead for the Golden Eagles, it felt like Concordia had just taken control again despite HPU’s best efforts.

HPU would end the quarter down by four, 37-33, after Rachal got a layup to go just before the horn. With time becoming an enemy, the Sharks needed points and fast as the team entered the game’s final 10 minutes.

The Sharks gave up the first three points of the fourth quarter before going on a 10-3 run to tie it at 43, aided by the Golden Eagles fouling so much that HPU entered the bonus with more than six minutes left in regulation. 

Unfortunately for the sixth seed, that early fourth quarter push would be the final one for HPU. Rachal would go on to score seven of CUI’s final 12 points, as missed free throws hurt the Sharks’ chances at a comeback and HPU fell, 55-48.

The Sharks dropped to 14-14 overall on the season, the first with head coach Katie Novak at the helm.