By: Tim Gooszen, Hope International (Calif.) Sports Information Director
COSTA MESA, Calif. - Hope International (Calif.) put forth the team effort of the year on Friday when they upset No.1 Vanguard (Calif.) in the GSAC Tournament Semifinals with an 80-76 win. Senior Andrina Rendon scored 25 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. Junior Krystyn Jacobs scored 14 of her 22 points in the second half to lead the comeback. For Vanguard, Nicole Ballestero scored a GSAC record 53 points.
Foreshadow quote of the moment, “Vanguard has to lose sometime, why not to us.”- stated by Head Coach Bill Crammer after his team’s practice on Thursday.
The first two minutes saw missed shots and turnovers by both teams until Rendon hit a layup for the first two points of the game. Ballestero quickly answered with her first two points. The two leading scorers in the game were just getting warmed up.
Jacobs dialed in a three pointer and HIU led 5-2.
But the Lions (26-1) went up by five twice including at 13-8 with 14:33 to go in the first half.
A jumper from Junior Krystal Canning and three pointer from Rendon tied the score at 13-13 before Junior Brittany Bauman scored in the paint to give HIU a short lived 15-14 edge.
Following a Ballestero three, Sophomore Alexis Perry tied the score again at 17-17 with a jumper.
Vanguard moved ahead by as many as six points before they were tracked down by Hope International when Jacobs converted an “and one” to move HIU up 24-23 at the 7:38 mark.
The score remained unchanged until 4:35 remaining when Ballestero converted a pair of free throws to grab the lead again.
Senior Shawna Staves changed that with jumper that gave HIU the scoring edge for the remainder of the half. Hope International increased that lead to eight- the largest lead eventually enjoyed by both teams- with a minute to go in the half on a three pointer from Junior Marissa Rendon.
With holding a 37-31 lead, HIU held the momentum going into the locker room. A. Rendon led HIU with 13 points though all seven Royals that played had also scored. Meanwhile, Ballestero had scored 22 of the 31 VUSC first half points.
After the intermission, the Lions and Ballestero swung the momentum right back in their favor as they outscored the Royals 12-2 to begin the half and build a 43-39 edge. Ballestero capped the run with a rare four point play thanks to making a three pointer while being fouled and converting the free throw.
A two from Bauman and three from A. Rendon started a chain reaction of four straight lead changes.
When Vanguard’s Taylor Belmont (11 points and 10 assists for the game) scored for a 48-47 lead with 14:07 to play, it appeared that might be the final turning point in the game. VUSC over the course of the next eight minutes eventually built up their eight point advantage (71-63).
But HIU responded as a team one more time and held Vanguard to just five points in the final six minutes.
With 2:34 to go and HIU still down 73-69, the next minute became the Jacobs show as she nailed a jumper, two free throws, and another jumper to move HIU ahead for good at 75-73.
Bauman then hit a three pointer to finish with 14 points and A. Rendon iced the game with a pair of free throws.
When the final buzzer sounded, it set off a list of firsts or top marks. Friday marks the first time Hope International has ever beat Vanguard in Women’s Basketball. For the first time ever a Hope International team (in any sport) will play for a GSAC Championship. The now 22 wins is a Hope International Women’s Basketball program all-time single season high.
Top fact- the top ranked team in NAIA Men’s Basketball (CSU San Marcos) and NAIA Women’s Basketball (Vanguard) both have just one loss on the season and both losses have come at the hands of the Hope International Basketball teams.
Coach Crammer added these comments after the game, “Wow- what a game! Our hats are off to Vanguard and Nicole Ballestero. They gave us quite a game- including 53 points from Ballestero. Our entire team showed their heart and character tonight with one of the biggest wins in school history- beating the number one team in the nation for our record setting 22 win, our first ever conference tournament semifinal win, setting up our first ever conference championship game.”
Crammer continued with comments about his players, “Andrina broke the school single season record for rebounds tonight with another double-double performance. Jacobs hit two huge shots (including to give us the final lead), Bauman hit a huge three point shot, and Andrina hit two free throws with 10 seconds to ice the win. We had huge rebounding games from Staves and Canning and outstanding defense by Perry. We had great fan support and got to storm the court at the end. What a game!!!”
The one certainty for the fourth seeded Royals is that they will be facing second seeded The Master’s in the GSAC Championship game on Tuesday at 5:00 pm. The question yet to be answered is the location of the game. With the championship games set to be air on FOX Sports Prime Ticket & FOX College Sports, the women’s GSAC Championship game will be played at the highest remaining men’s seed as a double header. The men play out their Semifinals on Saturday night to determine the championship location.