LA HABRA, Calif. --- After a sloppy first half that saw some key players get into foul trouble and some inopportune turnovers, the Eagles got themselves back on track and escaped Whittier Christian High School with a 80-61 win over Pacific Union.
Biola moves to 8-4 on the year after the big win, and the Pioneers dropped to a 0-10 mark. The win gives the Eagles their seventh in the last eight contests.
The three-point shot played a big role in the early part of tonight's contest, as the two teams combined for 20 deep attempts and 24 points off shots behind the arc in the first half. Four different Eagles scored on the three-point attempts in the first 20 minutes, and three different Pioneers dialed up the deep tallies.
Neither team could gain much traction in the first half, as Biola built its lead up to a high of 10 points, but squandered big leads back to a tie score at two different points.
Mike Kurtz was the big, physical presence that the Eagles needed early on in this sharpshooting affair. He battled with Jordan Greenwell throughout the night, matching Pacific Union's best player step-for-step.
Both big men picked up 10 points in the first frame, leading everyone at halftime. Kurtz, though, had two big swats and five rebounds, while Greenwell had just two rebounds and no blocks.
It was not just Kurtz who had the defensive edge over Greenwell, but the entire Eagles team. Biola led the battle of the boards throughout the night, outrebounding Pacific Union 42-31. Biola also forced 19 turnovers out of the Pioneers, and kept their own passing tight, only giving up the ball 13 times in the contest.
Just about four minutes into the final 20-minute frame the Eagles began their run that would help them extend to the sizable lead they ended up with. Andre Murillo's return after early foul issues was key to the eventual 15-2 run that put Biola up 65-43 with 11 minutes to play.
Thirteen of those quick 15 points came from a combination of jumpers and free thows converted by Murillo, Pierre Zook and Cody Wittick. Wittick logged more minutes than usual tonight and played well, putting up nine points, shooting 50 percent and only coughing the ball up twice.
Zook ended tied with Kurtz at 14 points a piece, leading Biola. Greenwell's 16 led Pacific Union in the losing attempt.
Once again it seems to be Biola's ability to force, and cash in on, opponent turnovers that is making the difference on the scoreboard. The Eagles scored 24 points off of the Pioneers' giveaways.
The Eagles have one more game before Christmas, heading back home to face Trinity Western (BC) at 1 p.m. in Chase Gymnasium Dec. 21.