Riverside, CA- Junior Austin Sanford and Sophomore Garrett Neilan both scored 22 points to lead Hope International over La Sierra 73-57 on Tuesday night. Senior Jeremy Kilgore contributed 16 points to become the HIU career leader in points scored since the Royals rejoined the NAIA in 1997 and joined the GSAC in 1999.
Sanford showed he was ready to play as he scored the first two points of the night to give the Royals (10-1) a brief 2-0 lead.
The Golden Eagles (3-11) responded twice to tie the score sandwiched around another Sanford basket.
After La Sierra closed within one, Kilgore scored his first two points of the night from the free throw line to give Hope International an 8-5 edge. They would maintain the top side of the scoreboard through the remainder of the first half.
Hope International held a 31-26 advantage after 20 minutes of play. Sanford put together a full game's worth of effort in the first half as he finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds. He was far from done.
Kilgore delivered eight first half points to put him in a tie atop the Hope International career GSAC points leader board with former team and back court mate Kris Rosales.
Neilan added six points before the break.
When play resumed, La Sierra did anything but fold their tents as they tied the score less than 90 seconds into the second half.
Hope International withstood the original La Sierra run and moved back in front on the scoreboard.
But at around 13 minutes left in the contest, the Golden Eagles moved ahead after a technical foul was charged to the Royals and built as large as a four point lead.
Following a flagrant and technical foul called against La Sierra, Hope International knocked down three of four straight free throws- two by Neilan and one by Sophomore Tuff Barnes. The second Neilan free throw gave Hope International a lead they would not surrender the rest of the night.
The Barnes missed free throw turned Hope International offensive team rebound set up history. Kilgore took a feed from Neilan and scored two points to take sole possession as Hope International's leading scorer since rejoining the NAIA and becoming a member of the GSAC. Kilgore added six more points on the night and currently sits exactly on 1,550 career points.
Neilan had a huge half scoring 16 points in the final 20 minutes to reach his 22 point total. For Sanford, his 22 points were a career high and his 16 rebounds tied his career high.
The Royals will not play again until after Christmas. On December 27, they will travel down to Palomar College to meet up with Waldorf in a neutral site game hosted by Cal State San Marcos. Hope International's opponent on December 28 will be the result of the two winners and the two losers from the day before squaring off.