Biola's Head Coach Dr. Dave Holmquist's coaching tenure at the school is 34 years, he has 836 wins here, and he said that Saturday's 76-73 double-overtime win over No. 8 Concordia is one of the most exciting games he has ever been a part of.
His words speak to what every single person inside Chase Gymnasium was thinking all night long. It took every second of the 50 minutes played, as the Eagles' upset victory was not secure until their was :00.30 left on the game clock.
"If you have a lead at the end against this team, it is never over until the buzzer sounds," said Holmquist.
Biola got a taste of that never-quit attitude of the Concordia team when they though the game was theirs in the final ticks of the first overtime. A huge three-point shot from Concordia's Justin Davis tied the game back up with just nine seconds left on the clock to force the eventual deciding second overtime.
The elation over the nail-biting victory was oh-so sweet for Biola, who have now won three consecutive Golden State Athletic Conference contests. The last two of those wins came against ranked opponents, marking the first time the Eagles have won back-to-back contests against ranked opponents since the 2011-12 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national tournament.
The team showed absolute grit by battling back numerous times throughout the game before they found themselves in the driver's seat in the extra periods.
After all of the pandemonium of the two overtime periods, it can be hard to follow the ups and downs of the two regulations halves, but as Holmquist noted, every second of this game counted.
"We needed everyone that played in the game in order to win tonight, especially since it was so lengthy."
Concordia started off with a solid first half, utilizing a huge 13-0 run in the middle of the half to build a sizable nine-point advantage. It was their persistence on the boards, especially at the offensive end that helped them use this run to start to pull away from Biola.
A block and a few solid rebounds by the Eagles' seven-footer, Mike Kurtz, helped Biola stage a six-point streak near the very end of the half to keep them within four.
Kurtz was an absolute stud all night long for the Eagles, doing seemingly anything he wished with the rock. He ended the game with 18 points and a remarkable 21 rebounds. Entering play today he was averaging 10 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
He put the team on his back by scooping in a handful of defensive boards off missed free throws by Concordia, and kept a bunch of drives alive for the Eagles with his nine offensive boards. When he wasn't too busy rebounding he had time to shoot 7-8 from the floor and 4-5 from the free-throw line.
"Kurtz was amazing," said Holmquist. "He has been more of a defensive guy, so for him to get nine offensive rebounds in a game is terrific. We needed every one that he got."
Kurtz's defensive prowess down the final three periods helped Biola close a team rebounding deficit to just six. They were getting outrebounded 29-17 after the first half.
Concordia built their lead back to seven points to start the second half, but Andre Murillo dialed in his beast mode and scored three layups sandwiched around one by Dakari Archer during an eight-point run that put Biola ahead with 15 minutes to play.
After the two teams literally traded baskets for the rest of regulation, the game was tied at 57 and headed to the overtime.
The Eagles scored six points in the first two minutes of the extra period to quickly gain a five-point advantage. They were riding the momentum while Concordia's shooters had to deal with a relentless home crowd.
Some late turnovers in the overtime gave Concordia a chance to take one last shot, and Davis got himself in a zone to nail the late three-pointer from the top of the arc to send it to a second period of extra play.
The Eagles showed absolute resilience by not letting the blown lead get under their skin, as Kurtz came out and made a jumper to get the scoring started. Montreal Harris made a transition layup to knot the game back up at 69.
With 45 seconds left on the clock Stephen Grosey nailed a critical layup to follow one by Murillo and the game was yet again tied, but this time there was just two possessions left in the period.
Dakari Archer got the ball and focused on slowing down Biola's offense against the gritty Concordia pressure defense. He worked Holmquist's play to perfection and nailed a layup to put Biola up by two.
At the other end, Murillo was able to snag a defensive rebound and got fouled as he came down with it. He made one of two free throws and the Eagles had a three-point lead with just seven ticks left. A last-ditch effort by Tommy Stangl saw the ball go out of play and Pierre Zook inbounded it with :00.30 to play and sealed the game for Biola.
"To regroup and come back after we almost let it slip away at the end of the second overtime was a real testament to this team's grit," said Holmquist. "It is a really high-character team, and the basketball part has been coming around. It has been a really good couple of weeks, and we just hope it continues."
The win moves Biola to 14-8 (4-2 GSAC) and drops Concordia to 16-6 (3-3 GSAC). Biola is now in sole possession of second place in the GSAC, two games behind No. 12 Vanguard, who is 6-0 in conference play.
With the win, Holmquist has 873 career head coaching victories, tying the former UConn head coach Jim Calhoun.