Fullerton, CA- Making their first ever appearance in the GSAC Playoffs, Hope International excited their fans with a 58-56 thrilling win against Biola on Thursday evening. With the Royals down one in the closing seconds, Junior Jeremy Kilgore nailed a three pointer to give Hope International the win. Senior Kris Rosales, playing for the final time in the Darling Pavilion, delivered 20 points and 5 assists.
The Eagles (15-16) opened the scoring in the contest with jumper in the paint by Mike Kurtz.
Senior Orlando Collins answered with a layup off the window for the Royals (25-6) to tie the score at 2-2. But Biola soon built a 10-4 advantage with 13:59 left in the half.
However, over the next 80 seconds Rosales went on a personal 8-2 run thanks in large part to two three points to re-tie the score at 12-12. Rosales scored five more points to cap a Rosales 13, Biola 4 run and give Hope International a 17-14 edge.
Collins helped the Royals build a five point edge (19-14) at 10:09 in the half before the Eagles started their first half comeback.
Over the next six minutes, Biola turned a five point deficit into a five lead thanks to a 12-2 run. They would build as large as a six point advantage before ending the half with a 31-29 lead.
Rosales was the game's leading scorer at the break with 13 points.
Biola shot 50% from the floor versus Hope International shooting 37.9% in the opening twenty minutes.
Sophomore Austin Sanford took a feed from Collins and turned it into a layup to tie the game at 31-31 just 12 seconds into the second half.
After trailing once again by six points, Hope International took their first lead of the second half when Kilgore stole the ball and raced to the other floor for a fast break layup with 12:39 to play.
The Eagles moved ahead again with the help of two three pointers before Kilgore went for five straight points including a three pointer to give the Royals the top side of the scoreboard again at 48-47.
Despite building a five point advantage, Hope International surrendered their lead when Biola tied the score at 54-54 with 81 seconds to play.
A made free throw from Rosales and two made free throws by Biola's David Cline gave the Eagles a 56-55 lead with 29 seconds to go.
Nine seconds later, Rosales found Kilgore on the left wing and Kilgore rose up and buried a-nothing-but-net-game-winning three pointer. The Royals survived two Biola layups right around the basket before time ran out to give Hope International the victory.
Kilgore had 10 second half points to end the night with 12 points. Sanford scored six points after the half to help him reach 11 points on the night.
The Royals held the Eagles to just 28.6% shooting in the second half.
For Hope International their favorite number on the night was 29 as they attempted 29 shots in both halves (making 11 in first and 12 in the second). They also scored 29 points in each half.
Head Coach Bill Czech stated, "Biola really came to play. They did not want their season to end. Their guys were very determined. Rosales played big early in the game to keep us close. Biola could have stretched the lead but Rosales took control on offense. He has been our heart and soul, and he took over tonight. In both halves, we got a big spark from Senior Travis Damuth off the bench who brought a lot of energy and created a lot of action. Kilgore had a sub-par shooting night by his standards but played all 40 minutes and had enough left in the tank to make the game winning shot. He is so confident no matter how he's going he believes he is going to make his next shot. It has been exciting to coach these guys and see the success that they have worked so hard to achieve. BIG, BIG thank you to all the students. They were phenomenal and brought us up when we needed it most. This win is for the Hope International student body."
With each win, the Royals move one step closer to sealing a trip to the NAIA National tournament.
Next up for the Royals is a semifinal GSAC playoff game against Arizona Christian on the neutral floor of Westmont. That game is scheduled for 5:30 pm on Saturday in Santa Barbara.