Fresno - The Fresno Pacific University Sunbirds closed the first half of Golden State Athletic Conference play with an 80-67 win over the Hope international University Royals.
Seniors Rudy Lopez (25 points, 12 rebounds) and Lesego Molebatsi (18 points, 8 rebounds) led the Sunbirds to their 11th win of the season. It also boosted their GSAC record to 4-6.
A 15-0 run over a two-and-a-half minute stretch midway through the first half put the Sunbirds in the drivers seat. It came on five consecutive 3-pointers scored by four different plays.
FPU lead 45-27 after 20 minutes of play.
The Royals, thanks mostly to Enrique Villereal and Grant Young, battled back to close the gap to just seven points, 69-62, with 4:55 to play.
FPU's defense tightened and the hosts closed it out with an 11-5 run for the final 13-point margin.
"Give them credit," said FPU coach Clark Sheehy of the Royals. "They are a scrappy team. They battled. They made some shots. They put some pressure on us. We responded down the stretch, but we need to learn from this, especially as we enter the second half.
Villareal led the Royals, who are still looking for their first win of the season (0-16, 0-10), with 25 points. Young was not far behind with 21 points.
FPU was a perfect from the charity stripe (14-14) and enjoyed a wide margin (40-25) in rebounding. Molebatsi led all players with five assists.
The Sunbirds begin the second half of GSAC play in Irvine on Saturday when they face Concordia. The Eagles improved to 11-9 overall and 4-6 in GSAC play after a 79-62 win at home tonight over Point Loma Nazarene.
The next home game for FPU is next Tuesday, January 31, when they host California Baptist.
Hope International: 0-16, 0-10 (L16)
Sunbirds: 11-7, 4-6 (W1)
Tonight's contest was the 18th in a series that dates back to January 20, 1973. The Sunbirds now hold a 16-2 advantage, including an 11-2 mark in GSAC games.
Saturday, January 28 (4:30) - The Sunbirds will be in Irvine to face the Concordia University Eagles.
Next Home Game
Tuesday, January 31 (7:30) - The Sunbirds will host California Baptist University Lancers
Fresno Pacific University offers undergraduate and graduate programs that stress solid academic preparation and a strong ethical foundation. Each year more than 2,000 traditional and adult students attend classes on the 42-acre main campus in southeast Fresno or centers in Visalia and Bakersfield. The university also reaches 12,000 students across the nation and around the world through professional development studies programs. The only four-year Christian university in the Central Valley, FPU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and ranked in the top quarter among Western universities master's category by U.S. News & World Report.