Jan. 19, 2020
With a month remaining in the 2009-10 schedule, both Biola’s men’s and women’s basketball teams are enjoying sterling seasons.
Sparked by a 16-0 start, the men are currently ranked #3 in the latest NAIA poll with a record of 20-2. The Eagles are atop the Golden State Athletic Conference at 10-2, tied with Concordia University, as they head into a critical portion of their league schedule.
At 13-7 on the season, the women are ranked #20 in the NAIA. The Eagles are in fourth place in the GSAC with a league mark of 9-3, just a game behind #5 Vanguard (10-2)—who the Eagles face on Saturday—and #2 Point Loma Nazarene (11-2). Biola is also within striking distance of arch-rival and #9 Azusa Pacific University, which leads the conference with an 11-1 mark. Biola hosts the Cougars of APU on Tuesday. The women are 13-4 since starting the season with three losses in a tournament against top-10 opponents in Tennessee.
The Eagles have just four home games remaining with two coming over the course of the next four days. Biola faces Vanguard University on Saturday, then hosts arch-rival Azusa Pacific University on Tuesday. The women’s games begin at 5:30 p.m. while the men’s contests tip-off at 7:30 p.m.
The men are led by a trio of senior starters – Rocky Hampton (13.7 ppg), Danny Campbell (11.9) and Marlon King (11.1). Juniors Nate Rakestraw (10.0) and Josh Miller (7.9) round out a veteran starting five that helped lead Biola to the NAIA Nationals last year. If the Eagles can maintain their momentum over the next several weeks, a return trip to Kansas City seems likely.
“If we stay healthy, I think we have a good chance to finish well,” says head coach Dave Holmquist. “The GSAC is a very strong conference so we cannot afford to become relaxed or lose any of our competitive edge. We must continue to become a tougher and smarter team.”
The Eagles have been outscoring opponents by a 13-point margin and hold a similar edge in rebounding (+8). But the real key for Biola’s success this year has been defense; in holding the opposition to 57.6 points per game, the Eagles are the stingiest team in the NAIA.
After its challenging pre-season, the Biola women’s team pieced together its best first-half record in conference play at 8-2, including a nine-point victory over #2 Point Loma Nazarene.
What brought about the turnaround after the 0-3 start?
“Our first three losses were against the #1, #6 and #9 ranked teams in the country,” says head coach Ken Crawford. “That experience helped us to see the level of play that we would need to achieve in order to be successful at the national level. The team has responded well to that challenge and continues to grow.”
Junior forward Jessilyn Conicelli paces the Eagles with a 15.5 ppg average and also leads the team in rebounds at 9.9 boards per game. Her rebounding mark is the best in the GSAC and has helped Biola lead the conference in rebounding. The other Eagle scoring in double figures is Jenna French (12.5), a junior forward from nearby La Serna High School.
Two other starters—sophomore Charrise Reece and senior Chelsea De Luca—were starters on last year’s squad which picked up Biola’s first-ever win at NAIA Nationals. Rounding out the starting five is junior center Christina Barclay, averaging 8.8 ppg along with 5.8 rebounds.
The women face two major hurdles over the next week, hosting #5 Vanguard on Saturday, Feb. 6 and #9 Azusa Pacific on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
“To beat these two teams, we will have to play consistent and physical basketball,” says Crawford. “We will need to keep turnovers at a minimum and rely on the home court advantage.”
For more information on tickets for the games against Azusa Pacific University on Tuesday, visit http://athletics.biola.edu/news/2010/2/4/GEN_0204104958.aspx.
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