Eagles snatch Royals’ title hopes

“A team win with a capital ‘T’” lifts Eagles to win the regular season GSAC championship

Biola students respond to recent research from the Barna Group that shows people's changing priorities in a time of economic upheaval.

Biola students respond to recent research from the Barna Group that shows people's changing priorities in a time of economic upheaval.

Kyle Kohner, Writer

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Biola men’s basketball heads into the GSAC Championship with the number one seed and huge momentum, after a momentous team effort win over Hope International on Saturday.

With the nation's No. 1 defense, Biola men’s basketball sought revenge against Golden State Athletic Conference foe, Hope International Royals, for last month's 10-point loss. The GSAC regular season championship and the number one seed in the tournament was on the line. Saturday was senior night for two of the Eagles’ stars, guards Caelan Tiongson and Terrell Funches. Saturday would also showcase a dominant effort by the defense once again.

A QUICK-START

The first quarter began with the Eagles’ usual quick-start, pulling ahead 7-2 within the first five minutes, including a wide-open three by junior forward Ryan Swain to open up the scoring. A suffocating defensive onslaught epitomized first half, highlighted by two monstrous blocks by junior guard Dakari Archer and sophomore forward Steve Herve.

It became evident early on that the home crowd, energetic defensive play and fast-break points gave the Eagles a huge advantage heading into the second half over the tired Royals. The defense became too conservative to end the half, as they allowed the Royals to go on a 10-4 run.

WITH A CAPITAL T

The second half featured a big 12-6 run to pull the Eagles ahead 39-30 with 15 minutes left in the game. Biola’s defense continued to frustrate the Royals. The Eagles proved a blocking machine in the half, swatting seven royals attempts at the rim. Tiongson had three of the team's’ seven second half blocks and Herve had two.

Tiongson capitalized on his senior night, by nearly missing a double-double by two rebounds. However, he did contribute 13 points and energy the Royals could not match.

“[Coach Holmquist] emphasized how big of a defensive effort that tonight would have to be and we capitalized,” Tiongson said. “Coach told us that tonight had to be a team win with a capital ‘T.’ ”

Biola kept their lead to about six to nine points the rest of the game. Funches sealed the game’s fate with a three-point play with under a minute to go. Funches finished the night with 22 points and 6 rebounds, capping off a phenomenal last year for the senior transfer.

“I could not ask for a better group of guys, our defense held their star players under their average stat lines,” Funches said. “When we needed a stop down the stretch, we sealed the deal and came out victorious. This is the best team I ever played for and I’ll cherish this moment for the rest of my life.”

DEFYING THE ODDS

With the victory, Biola captures their first GSAC regular season championship since 2002, defying odds in which the Eagles were predicted to finish fifth in standings in the preseason coaches poll. Biola finishes the season undefeated at home. The Eagles also finished with number one defense in the NAIA. Saturday marked the last time seniors Tiongson, Funches and forward Christian Misi would play a regular season game at Chase Gymnasium.

Biola’s next game will be March 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the semi-finals against the winner of the Arizona Christian University and Westmont College mat