Posted: March 10, 2015
March 10, 2015
By Tim Tuttle/Contributing Writer
FULLERTON – Hope International University completed an unbeaten season at home and won the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament men’s basketball championship for the first time with a 75-61 victory over Concordia (Irvine) before a crowd of 2,000 and a regional television audience Tuesday night at Darling Pavilion.
The Royals (29-2), ranked second in NAIA Division I, finished 21-0 on their home floor this season. The victory earned them GSAC’s automatic berth in the 32-team NAIA National Tournament, which begins March 18 in Kansas City, Mo. Hope, which is making its third straight trip to the tournament, is expected to be the No. 2 seed.
Concordia (27-6) is tied for seventh in the national rankings and is expected to receive an at-large berth in the national tournament. The Eagles would have moved up a few spots in the seedings by beating Hope for the second time in three meetings. It also was their first loss in seven appearances in the GSAC Tournament championship game.
The two programs have become two of the best small college programs in the country in the past three years, and it’s developed into an intense rivalry. Hope won its first GSAC regular-season title with a 14-2 record, while Concordia was the runner-up at 13-3. Concordia handed Hope its first loss of the season, 71-66, on Jan. 17 in Irvine, while the Royals beat the Eagles, 72-67, at Hope on Feb. 21.
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