Riverside, CA- Down by as many as 15 points, fourth seed Hope International came all the way back and defeated top seed California Baptist 64-63 in the NCCAA Western Regional Semi-Finals. Junior Kris Rosales poured in 21 points and Sophomore Jeremy Kilgore added 19 points.
The Lancers (16-10) opened the scoring 19 seconds into the game. Rosales knocked down a jumper for the Royals (11-15) in the paint to tie the score at 2-2.
But CBU answered with a 10-0 run to take a 12-2 advantage.
The teams liked the score of 14-5 as it remained on the scoreboard for almost 3 minutes. From there, the Lancers would go on to build their largest lead of the half at 22-7.
Rosales started an 8-0 run as the Royals started to chip away at their deficit. Senior Steve Jurich buried a three pointer from the left wing and HIU was back within eight.
CBU outscored HIU 10-8 to close out the half to make the score 32-23.
Rosales scored a team high 10 points in the opening half. Despite shooting 25% from the field, Hope International climbed back into the game by shooting 10-11 from the free throw line.
To begin the second half, Kilgore converted a pair of free throws and the game became a seven point affair.
But CBU pushed their lead to 14 before HIU closed the gap to 48-42 at the 10 minute mark. With 8:44 to play, CBU held a 52-42 edge on the scoreboard.
However, Junior Jordan Gipson laid in two in the paint and the complete comeback was started. The Royals would not see a double digit disadvantage the rest of the game. In fact, that shot sparked a 7-0 run capped by a three pointer from Kilgore.
Finally with 2:28 to play in the contest, Kilgore delivered a fade away jumper to knot the score at 57-57- just the second time in the game. CBU moved back ahead by two before Kilgore drove hard to the basket right through the paint and the middle of the CBU defense to drop in a hard earned two points.
Following a steal by Jurich with 65 seconds to play, Rosales tiptoed along the baseline before finding an open Freshman Austin Sanford under the basket who banked home a shot off the glass. The basket by Sanford gave HIU a 61-60 lead with 24 seconds to play- their first lead of the contest.
Kilgore then proceeded to make 3 of 4 free throws in the final seconds for the game winning margin. The Lancers hit a three pointer as time expired to account for the final score of 64-63 HIU.
Rosales poured in a team high 21 points and Kilgore was right behind with 19 points (15 of which came in the second half).
The difference in the game was the Royals superb shooting at the free throw line where they finished the game 28-31 (90.3%).
Head Coach Bill Czech stated, "As they have done all year, the guys showed a lot of heart. They did not give up and stuck together early. It would have been easy for them to make excuses but they hung in there. Kris (Rosales) and Jeremy (Kilgore) had outstanding games and caused a lot of problems for them (CBU) off the dribble."
When the game clock hit triple zeroes, it became the first time ever that Hope International has beat California Baptist in Men's Basketball.
With the win, the Royals live to fight another day and that day is tomorrow. They will now play at The Master's in Santa Clarita in the NCCAA Western Regional Final. Game time is set for 7:30 pm.