Costa Mesa, CA- Playing for the first ever GSAC (Tournament) Championship in HIU Athletics history, Hope International beat The Master's 64-59 on the neutral court of Vanguard. Senior Andrina Rendon could not be stopped as she poured in 22 points with 20 rebounds.
The second seeded Mustangs (24-8) opened the scoring with a layup from Jacquelyn Marshall for a quick 2-0 edge.
The fourth seeded Royals (23-9) turned the ball over on their first possession of the championship game but turned a defensive rebound into a jumper from Junior Krystyn Jacobs near the free throw line. Sophomore Alexis Perry dialed in a three pointer to give HIU a 5-2 edge.
HIU turned that into a five point lead at 9-4 on a Jacobs jumper and then again on a three point play from Rendon at 14-9.
TMC responded with the next five points to tie the score at 14-14.
That was the last tie of the first half and game.
Hope International would go on to build a nine point advantage with 7:28 to go in the first half on a three pointer from Junior Brittany Bauman- her first three of the game.
The Mustangs rallied back and crept within two points at 29-27 before a three pointer from Rendon, layup from Bauman, and free throw from Jacobs gave HIU their 35 first half points.
TMC closed out the first half scoring the last four of six points to make the half time score 35-31 HIU.
Rendon led all scorers with 12 first half points along with seven rebounds. Bauman ended the half with nine points. Marshall was the leading scorer for TMC with nine points.
Out of the break, the first six minutes saw both teams score 12 points in the first six minutes to keep the halftime gap of four.
Over the next seven and half minutes both teams tightened their defense as only four points were allowed by both teams.
The Mustangs pulled within two on two different that was as close as the Royals would let them get.
At the 2:45 mark, Rendon cashed in another a three point play followed by yet another jumper from Jacobs and on then on the next possession a free throw from Jacobs to give HIU a ten point lead to seal the deal.
Eighty-six seconds later, the Royals were celebrating their first ever GSAC Championship (tournament or regular) since joining the GSAC in 1999-00.
Rendon ended her first GSAC Championship with the 22 points and 20 rebounds- her 20th double-double on the season. Bauman was the second of four Royals to reach double digits with 17 points. Perry ended the game with 13 points. Jacobs concluded with 12 points and a game high seven assists.
For the Mustangs, Marshall also reached double-double status with 19 points and 13 rebounds- her 16th double-double. Megan Lindsley concluded her evening with 16 points.
Head Coach Bill Crammer stated, "It wasn't pretty but if I had to come up with a description for the win tonight I think "True Grit" is a fitting title. Our girls showed grit and determination on defense and on the boards tonight to overcome a poor shooting night. I am so proud of the entire team and the effort and commitment they have shown over the past seven months. As coaches, we told them from the beginning that defense and rebounding win championships and tonight they proved that out. It was an historic finish to a wonderful conference season. To God be the Glory!"
For the Royals their win gives them the GSAC's automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament coming up next week in Frankfort, KY. As for the Mustangs, they will certainly be making a trip to Nationals as well. The two championship teams along with Vanguard and Westmont will find out their tournament pairings on Wednesday at 5:00 pm (PDT) via the NAIA's selection show.