Two games, two victories

Men’s basketball remains undefeated after two close victories at Azusa’s Cougar Classic.

Nathan Palatsky, Writer

Biola men’s basketball went up to Azusa for the 23rd annual Cougar Classic at Azusa Pacific University undefeated, and came home the same way. In the first game, the No. 17 Eagles faced off against No. 22 (NAIA Div. II) Evergreen State College. Senior forward Rocky Hampton led Biola with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard Nate Rakestraw added 18 and a big steal on the defensive end as the final seconds ticked away to preserve the 71-69 win.

The game appeared to be over when the Eagles went up 68-61 with 1:27 to play, and they maintained a six point lead with 24 seconds left when Geoducks guard Nathan Menefee hit three free throws with 19 seconds left, Wilson got a steal and Menefee hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to tie it up.

Evergreen guard Ben Wilson fouled Rakestraw, sending him to the line with 9.7 seconds to play. After making one of the two free throws, he stepped in front of a long pass and Biola locked it up. Junior forward Andrew Schroeder added 12 points on 6 of 8 from the field. Biola was outshot from the field and at the free throw line, but overwhelmed Evergreen on the offensive boards 16-3. Biola’s inside game was key as they dominated the points in the paint category 34-6.

In the second game of the Cougar Classic, Biola faced No. 14 (NAIA Div II.) Embry-Riddle (Fla.). Senior guard Marlon King led the Eagles with 17 points and nine assists. He also added three steals and five rebounds in 34 minutes on the floor. Biola overcame a 31-23 halftime deficit to win 59-55. Junior Andrew Schroeder contributed 10 points, four rebounds and a block, and senior Danny Campbell added seven points and nine rebounds to the effort.

Saturday afternoon’s win was really a team effort, with seven players playing at least 20 minutes. All seven grabbed at least four points and three rebounds. The Eagles scored the first eight points of the game and led 23-22 with 4:56 to go in the first half. But they shot 0-9 the rest of the half, and Embry guard Blake Touchard hit three 3-pointers in a row to hold a 31-23 lead at the half.

With 16:20 to go, Embry-Riddle led 37-27. But then Biola found its stroke, and a three by Campbell cut the lead to two with 10:03 left. Embry held on to a slim lead until King found Campbell behind the arc for three to put the Eagles ahead 54-53 with 4:03 to play. Embry-Riddle only made one field goal in the final four minutes. Biola’s big men were key again, outscoring Embry in the paint 34-20.

The 3-0 Eagles face California Maritime on Nov. 21 for one more test before they begin GSAC play in Chase Gymnasium on Dec. 1 against GSAC favorite, No. 3 Fresno Pacific University.

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