Eagles punch ticket to GSAC Final

Needing to make two free-throws to win the game with less than a second to go, the Westmont Warriors tied it with the first attempt but missed the second and forced overtime. However, the Eagles would dominate OT for the win.

Kyle Kohner, Writer

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The Eagles got off to another fast start, scoring eight straight points to begin the game. A stingy Biola defense and 17-point explosion by junior guard Dakari Archer helped the Eagles maintain a comfortable lead at the half.

Archer, with his 25-point performance, is fresh off winning the GSAC player of the year award and being named a member of the All-GSAC team. Along with Archer, senior guard Terrell Funches was named to the All-GSAC team. Along with Archer and Funches, Coach Dave Holmquist were given their awards in a pre-game ceremony.

Terrell came two rebounds shy of a double-double Saturday night. His statline remained impressive as he contributed 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Funches was also the only player perfect from the free-throw line and made six of his 10 points in overtime.

Westmont brought more competition the second half. The Warriors committed less fouls and forced a whopping eight turnovers, providing their offense more chances to close the gap. The Eagles’ turnovers caused them to give up the lead to the Warriors with 2:54 to play. For the remainder of regulation, the two teams would trade the lead to the point where Biola was down 53-54 with four seconds left.

All hope seemed lost to Westmont's suffocating defense until the clutch sophomore guard Blake Shannon Jr. took a pass from senior guard Caelan Tiongson and sank in a mid-range jumper to give the Eagles a 55-53 lead.

When it seemed Biola won the game after a missed three by Westmont, officials called a foul on Funches with less than a second to go. Westmont star junior guard Cory Blau received a chance to win the game with two free throws. He made the first one to tie the game, but missed the last one under preasier and forced the game into overtime.

In overtime, the Warriors proved outmatched as junior forward Jeff Gonzalez began the deciding period with a tip-in of Tiongson’s attempted lay-up. Shannon capped off his clutch performance with one more three pointer and Funches scored six of his 10 points in the game. The Eagles allowed the game to get close. Despite a close game for two halves, a smothering defense and efficient offense in overtime propelled the Eagles to a 75-66 win, punching their tickets for the GSAC title against Hope International.

The GSAC championship will be at home on Tuesday, March 8 at 8 p.m.