The No. 9 Vanguard Lions entered play with the second-best winning percentage in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division I. They had not lost a game since Dec. 3 and were 7-0 in Golden State Athletic Conference play.
Then Vanguard had to face No. 18 Biola at home, and it all changed.
The Eagles went blow-for-blow with the defending NAIA National Player of the Week, Preston Wynne, and his crew, and really had the game under wraps the entire time. Biola dropped Vanguard to 20-3 (7-1 GSAC) and handed them their first loss at the hands of an NAIA opponent since Nov. 23. Their last loss came at the hands of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I member, Grand Canyon.
Biola rode a solid first half and a scorching start to the second to down the Lions, 72-64. There was only one lead change in the entire game, as the Eagles proved they belonged among the teams at the top of the NAIA's toughest conference.
"I felt like it was another good team win for us, a lot of guys came through for us tonight," said Head Coach Dr. Dave Holmquist. "Our guys played really hard, and we used a lot of different guys. We could have done some things better down the stretch, but we survived."
The Eagles nearly had a devastating collapse in the waning minutes, as they could not convert on six of seven free throws at one point inside the two and a half minute mark.
They eventually overcame the jitters and surpassed that issue and Vanguard's insane full-court press to secure the victory with a Lions' turnover in the final few ticks.
Wynne continued his magical season with another fantastic performance, leading all scorers with 22.
Dakari Archer put in an ultra-gritty performance for the Eagles, gutting out a team-high 19 points before he had to be removed from the game after a flagrant foul by Vanguard's Tino Zaragoza.
Pierre Zook and Mike Kurtz each had another one of those nights, scoring in double-digits and shooting 5-10 from the floor. Zook ended with 15 points, while the Eagles' biggest big man finished with 12. Even more effective was Kurtz's defensive game, as her snagged 11 rebounds and knocked down six blocks in a powerful display of defense. His numbers earned him his fourth double-double of the season
Earning a somewhat surprising three points, in seven minutes on the court, was Colin Bossio. The junior guard made just his third in-conference appearance of the season, and he made his minutes count.
"Colin did a great job for us tonight," said Holmquist. "At the end of the first half he went in their and player error-free basketball and took care of the ball. He is a great young man."
Biola's upset of the Lions puts them back into second place in the conference. They are tied with No. 22 Concordia at 5-3 in GSAC play. Concordia is three games ahead of Biola in the overall win column, with a record of 18-6.
After the improbable win inches them within two games of Vanguard for the league lead, the Eagles get to go to El Cajon, Calif. to face San Diego Christian, who is currently sixth in the conference.