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Men's Basketball - Thu, Feb. 23, 2017 - posted by Seth Preuss
Liam Hunt grabbed his 11th double-double of the season in a tough win at Menlo
Liam Hunt grabbed his 11th double-double of the season in a tough win at Menlo
53
VS
49
(10)Hope International
Menlo College

ATHERTON, CA – Hope International traveled north for its final road trip of the season to play Menlo and William Jessup over the weekend. The Royals opened the road trip at Menlo and trailed throughout the first half and into the second before grinding out a tough win in Atherton on the road against the Oaks.

Early HIU turnovers and a blitzing Menlo defense put the home Oaks in front 8-0 after the first five minutes ticked by. The Royals finally got on the board with a free throw from Josh Smith (SR/National City, CA) to make it 8-1 and would not make their first field goal until 14:00 showed on the clock, a layup in the lane by Liam Hunt (JR/San Anselmo, CA).

The Oaks were able to capitalize on the home court advantage in the first half and held a six-point edge against HIU at the break, 24-18, after leading by as many as eight on three different occasions in the first 20 minutes. The Royals helped out their hosts by committing 11 turnovers in the first half that led to 11 points for the Oaks in the opening period.

Halftime adjustments and a renewed determination drove the Royals in the opening minutes as they put together an 8-3 run to open the second half. The Royals pulled within one, 27-26, after Donny Punter (JR/Long Island, NY) knocked down a pair of free throws from the charity stripe at 15:42 and would take their first lead two minutes later after back-to-back blocks and a layup by Josh Smith with 13:50 to play.

After taking the lead with Smith's layup the Royals would never give up control, leading by as many as nine with under a minute to play against a scrappy Oaks squad bolstered by its home fans. Menlo ate into the lead and tied the game twice after HIU pulled in front but the Royals held on for their sixth road win of the season with a final tally of 53-49.

When asked about the determination and focus shown by his team after the game, Coach Bill Czech responded, "We just hung together and didn't panic too much – I think overall the guys kept their composure and got more aggressive as the game went on." Coach Czech continued on to remark that "We weren't aggressive enough to start but we got better and more aggressive as the game went on – the guys had a strong desire to win and weren't going be denied tonight. Donny's free throws were massive for us tonight and we're going to refocus now for this weekend – we want to get this done."

The Royals are now 23-6 with one game left in the regular season, a road test at (RV) William Jessup on Saturday, Feb. 25 – the Warriors' Senior Night celebration will be that night as well. HIU jumps back to the top of the GSAC leaderboard with the win at 12-3 in conference, a half-game in front of Biola and a full game in front of The Master's.

The Royals locked up the number one seed in the GSAC Tournament and a first-round bye after tonight's win because of tiebreakers against The Master's and Biola. HIU also clinched at least a share of the GSAC Regular Season title with the win and can claim it outright with a win this weekend. Links to live coverage of this weekend's tilt will be available at hiuroyals.com.

 
M - Basketball
Overall GSAC Streak
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