For the first time in program history, the Biola men’s basketball team won the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament title Tuesday night, defeating top-seeded Concordia University 81-77 behind a strong 21-point effort from the team’s lone senior, Davey Hopkins, at the CU Arena.
Biola, seeded third in the tournament and ranked No. 19 in the latest NAIA national poll, recorded its eighth-straight win and its 13th in the last 14 games overall, improving to 25-8 on the season. Concordia, which is ranked No. 4 in the NAIA poll, dropped to 26-7. The NAIA Tournament now awaits both teams.
Hopkins had another solid game, scoring a game-high 21 points including 11 from the free throw line and 15 in the second half. He added five assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals. Chase Adams came up huge in the opening 20 minutes and finished with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Given Kalipinde scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half, adding four assists, four rebounds and three steals.
Biola led by as many as 14 in the first half, but saw that lead evaporate at the start of the second half. However, the Eagles kept their cool and answered back each time.
Late in the contest, a three-pointer by GSAC Player of the Year Cameron Gliddon gave Concordia a one-point lead at 69-68 with 4:21 to play and ignited the capacity crowd. But on the next possession he tried to shut down the baseline on a drive to the hole by Hopkins and was whistled for his fifth foul. Hopkins would drain the two free throws and give Biola the lead back for good.
Biola's two big advantages came thanks to stellar defense and scoring in the paint. Biola forced 16 Concordia turnovers and converted them into 26 points while Concordia was able to get just 13 points of Biola's 14 turnovers. In addition, Biola outscored Concordia 14-4 in second-chance points, out-rebounding the home side 38-33 including a 13-10 edge in offensive boards.
Biola pulled off an impressive feat, beating Concordia in all three match-ups between the two team this season. In addition, Tuesday's win was its second-straight win over Concordia in Irvine after winning just once at the CU Arena over the last 10 years.
The GSAC tournament championship game appearance was the first for Biola in 10 years and the title was Biola's first in four attempts since joining the conference in 1993-94. The Eagles had lost their three previous trips to the finals to Azusa Pacific. Biola had won numerous titles when national tournament berths were awarded through district qualification prior to its GSAC days.
The victory also marks the second time this year a Biola team has defeated top-seeded Concordia in Irvine to win a GSAC Tournament title. In November, the men's soccer team overcame a two-goal deficit to beat Concordia 3-2 in double overtime.
Biola’s NAIA Tournament appearance will be its fourth-straight and its 19th overall. The Eagles have the sixth-most appearances by current NAIA teams and are 23-18 overall at the tournament. Among the previous 18 appearances, Biola has finished in the top four twice (2nd in 1981-82; 3rd in 1999-00) and made seven trips to the quarterfinals. Last season, the Eagles made their second-straight appearance in the NAIA Quarterfinals, falling 66-63 to Martin Methodist College.