By Tim Gooszen, Hope International Sports Information
IRVINE, Calif. -- On Saturday, Hope International (Calif.) added another step on the road to respect as it knocked off defending NAIA national champion and No. 15 Concordia (Calif.), 101-91. The win was their first against Concordia in men's basketball since the 2000-01 season. Junior Jeremy Kilgore poured in a game and career high 28 points. Senior Orlando Collins added 21 points with freshman Garrett Neilan right behind at 20 points.
Kilgore started the game off on the right foot as the Royals (17-1, 2-0 GSAC) controlled the opening tip and Neilan found Kilgore racing to the basket and with just a mere five seconds off the clock HIU lead 2-0.
Senior Kris Rosales scored the next six HIU points less than a minute apart. When sophomore Austin Sanford knocked down a two, HIU had jumped out to a 10-2 lead.
Concordia's Tim Harris led the comeback charge as he poured in 10 points which included hitting back-to-back threes to give the Eagles (11-5, 0-2 GSAC) a 19-17 edge.
Two points from Sanford, Rosales, Kilgore, and then Rosales again produced two ties and then two lead changes in the favor of the Royals. But a 3-pointer from Concordia with 6:53 to play in the half moved them back to the top side of the score- a view the Eagles would enjoy the remainder of the half.
At the break, with CUI enjoying a 46-37 edge (the nine points was ultimately their largest lead of the game), CUI's Harris topped all scorers with 18 points (he finished the game with 21 points). Rosales had an HIU high of 12 points.
Out of the break, Rosales scored two, Neilan added a couple, and Kilgore started his big scoring second half with a 3-pointer and just like that HIU was down just two 46-44.
CUI extended their lead back up to eight on four different occasions with the last time coming with 12:12 left in the game and a score of 67-59.
With just over six minutes to play, Neilan drained a pair of free throws and HIU had completed the comeback and moved in front 78-76.
From there the momentum shifted and the game appeared to become Kilgore's personal playground as he thwarted any Concordia comeback attempt and poured in 14 points in the final five and half minutes. Not to be outdone, Collins added six points in that same time frame two of which came in the form of a dunk.
The Royals, who have prided themselves on defense all season, showed off their full offensive arsenal as they made 65.1% of their shots for the game which included an unbelievable 72.7% in the second half. Kilgore was a perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the floor in the second half.
HIU head coach Bill Czech stated, "we have ultimate respect for Concordia as they are the benchmark in the GSAC that we strive for. My guys played extremely tough, kept their poise, played together as a group, and supported each other all night.
"Kilgore had an unbelievable game. Orlando (Collins) was really good. Rosales got us started in both halves. Brandon Rowe really came through for us tonight hitting big shot after big shot. With Rosales cramping, Ryan Jocson came in and played almost as well as Kris. Jocson was solid."
In last Tuesday's poll, Hope International received votes. Now, that they have beaten The Master's (who also received votes) and No. 15 Concordia, the Royals are certain to move into the NAIA's top 25 in next Tuesday's poll- which is believed to be the first time in the program's history.
Also on Tuesday, Hope International will host Arizona Christian in the Darling Pavilion at 7:30 pm. That game will feature the programs with the best season records in the GSAC as well as two of the three undefeated schools on the season in GSAC play. Concordia will travel to The Master's in Santa Clarita on Tuesday.