Fullerton, CA- With both teams playing their third game in three days, crispness and energy were not always at the fore front on Sunday evening as Hope International beat Northern British Columbia 65-50. Sophomore Garrett Neilan led everyone with 17 points while Junior Matt Green checked in with 13 points.
The first half can probably best be described as sluggish as both team struggled to find a fluid offensive rhythm. The two teams both finished around the 30% shooting mark in the first half. Combined the teams were 1-17 from behind the three point line in the first 20 minutes.
But for the shots that did fall, the first half was a back and forth affair in the early going. Junior Austin Sanford opened the scoring before the Timberwolves tied the game and then took a 5-4 lead.
On two separate occasions, Neilan score two points (two free throws and then a jumper) to put the Royals (11-3) back on top.
Northern BC moved right back in front seconds later and would go on to build a three point edge twice.
With the game tied at 15-15 and about seven minutes showing on the first half clock, Green hit back-to-back jumpers in the paint to give Hope International a 19-15 lead. Despite the Timberwolves climbing back within one a few minutes later, Hope International would not allow even another tie the remainder of the night.
By halftime, the Royals were up 29-20. Senior Regan Andersen put on quite a show down the stretch in the first half as he pounded his way to eight points and seven rebounds in his home debut. Neilan also finished with eight first half points.
After the break, both teams showed a lot more life as evident by the 66 combined points versus just the 49 points in the first half.
Green and Neilan both scored nine points after the break. Sanford added eight points to also reach 10 or more points in the game. For perspective, not one player from Northern BC reached the double digit scoring mark.
Assistant Coach Jon Clasen stated, "We came out strong early in the second half to build a big lead. It was a hard fought win. It is always hard to play three games in three days. With our leading scorer struggling, we were pleased other guys stepped up. Jeremy Kilgore had a tough assignment guarding a player that creates a lot but Kilgore limited his offensive production."
The Royals can rest up through the remainder of 2013 and early part of 2014 as they will not play again until Tuesday, January 7, when they host Bethesda. Their final tune up before conference play begins will tip-off at 7:30 pm as the backend of a double header with the women.