Fullerton, CA - On Tuesday afternoon, Hope International found out they earned their first ever NAIA Top-25 ranking. Then on Tuesday evening, the No. 24 Royals beat Bethesda 84-71. Junior Brittany Bauman led all Royals with 20 points. Junior Marissa Rendon, making her HIU debut, scored 18 points while handing out nine assists.
Facing a much tougher and taller Bethesda team than last year's version proved to be a challenge for the Royals (11-3) in the first half.
Bauman opened the scoring with her first of four three pointers in the game. Sandwiched around a two pointer from the Flames (8-16), Senior Andrina Rendon dialed in a three of her own to give HIU a 6-2 edge. After a 6-6 tie, Hope International used two points from Sophomore Alexis Perry and A. Rendon to go ahead 10-6.
But the Flames (8-16) used an 8-0 run to build a four point lead. After getting back within two, HIU saw their deficit grow to as large 10 points.
Bethesda held the lead for the remainder of the first half as they shot an impressive 51.4% from the field. HIU on the other hand shot 42.1% from the field in first 20 minutes as they were down 45-42 at the break.
The Royals nailed seven three pointers in the first half to keep themselves with striking distance. Both Rendon sisters were 2-4 from the behind the three point line. Freshman Elizabeth Prestia was a perfect 2-2 from behind the three point arc in the half.
The halftime speech must have been all about defense because the Royals certainly turned up the defensive pressure in the final 20 minutes.
Senior Shawna Staves brought HIU within one just 28 seconds into the half. Junior Destiny Chavez gave Hope International a brief one point lead less than a minute later.
However, the Flames responded one more time and eventually built a 49-48 advantage. Emilie Munnandibu scored five straight points to give BUC that lead. The 6-5 Munnandibu finished the game topping all scorers with 22 points.
HIU answered with a 16-2 run to build a 64-51 lead. Bauman keyed the run burying back-to-back-to-back three pointers on three straight HIU possessions. Freshman Emily Terwilliger capped the scoring run with two of her 10 points.
Despite HIU building as large as a 14 point lead, Bethesda fought back to climb within four at 69-65 with 5:46 to go in the contest.
But the Royals outscored the Flames 15-6 down the stretch to close out the win.
In the second half, HIU shot exactly 50.0% from the field while holding BUC to just 26.5% from the field.
Behind the 20 points (including in 15 second half) and eight assists from Bauman and 18 points and nine assists from M. Rendon, Chavez dropped in a career high 14 points on the strength of 6-8 shooting from the field.
A. Rendon matched her number 12 with 12 points and 12 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season.
Next up for the No. 24 Royals will see them venture into GSAC play as they host The Master's on Tuesday at 5:30 pm in the Darling Pavilion.