Eagles knock off No. 3 Fresno Pacific

Biola’s defense shuts down offensive juggernaut FPU.

Nathan Palatsky, Writer

Biola’s No.17 men’s basketball team opened conference play Tuesday night against GSAC defending champion and NAIA No. 3 Fresno Pacific University. Both teams came in undefeated on the season, but the Eagles controlled the game from the start and junior forward Josh Miller led all scorers with 14 points and 12 rebounds, including a game-high 5 offensive rebounds in the 61-49 win. The Eagles improve to 5-0, 1-0 in GSAC.

“It was important for us to make a statement here,” Miller said, “It’s a great feeling to be 5-0, but we need to clean up the offense. The defense is what kept us going.”

Fresno Pacific, who fell to 6-1 with the loss, 0-1 in GSAC, has averaged 93 points per game to this point, including one game in which they scored over 100, but were immediately shut down by the Eagles.

“It’s tough to start against Biola,” Fresno Pacific head coach Jim Sala said. “Their coach had a great game plan, and the zone gave our offense issues all night.”

Before the game, Biola head coach Dave Holmquist talked about the team’s focus coming in.

“Every game has keys,” Holmquist said. “Our transition defense will be important. We can’t let them get out on fast break.”

Sure enough, the Eagles held FPU to just 6 fast break points. Effort on the boards assisted with that, as Biola led Fresno in rebounds 40-27. Senior forward Rocky Hampton grabbed 9 rebounds, to add to his 7 points, 3 blocks, and a steal, in a solid all-around contribution. Senior guard Marlon King had 12 points, 4 steals and 4 assists, while fellow senior guard Danny Campbell added 11 points and 5 rebounds. The Eagles shot 50 percent on 24-48 from the floor, besting Fresno Pacific’s mark of 34.5 percent.

Fresno forward Todd Brown started the scoring with a 3-pointer in the first minute, but Miller quickly responded with one of his own. After the Sunbird’s James Lewis scored on a lay-up, Biola went on an 11-4 run and never trailed the rest of the way. Midway through the second half, the Eagles went on an 8-0 run to go up 47-36 with 10 minutes left. Fresno’s usual dominant shooting from beyond the arc was severely limited on Tuesday, as they only shot 3-25 from 3-point land, including a miserable 1-14 in the second half, hallmarked by desperate toss-ups at the end. Biola also did not allow Fresno to put up many second or third chances as the Eagles led in second-chance points 17-7.

Five games into the season, King leads the Eagles in scoring, averaging 11 points per game. He also is leading the team with 15 steals and 34 assists on the season. Hampton leads Biola with 13 blocks, is second on the team with 10.8 points per game and is averaging 8.6 rebounds per game, while Miller is grabbing 7.4 per contest.

The Eagles are at Vanguard on Saturday Dec. 6 before coming home again Tuesday, Dec. 8 to play Point Loma.

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