The Eagle men advanced to the regional tournament championship Friday night with a win over host and #2 seed Trinity Bible College. Faith held on for a 90-81 win, pushing their season mark to 22-5, which is a new school record for wins.
The game was a game of runs from start to finish. Trinity came out hot, jumping up on the Eagles 14-9 in the first four minutes. Trinity then pushed the lead to 9 at 14-23 with about 10 left in the first half. Faith finally got some defensive stops, putting together a 24-13 run over the final 10 minutes to take a slim 38-36 lead into the half. The Eagles were able to grab the lead despite shooting just 39% from the floor.
For the first 9 minutes of the second half, the Eagles clung to the lead. Trinity tied it up at 56 all, then put together a 9-2 run to lead by 7 with 9 minutes to play in the game. Trinity maintained that lead for the next 2 and a half minutes, but the Eagles weren't done yet. Ryan Kupferschmid got things rolling for the Eagles, hitting a very deep three to pull Faith within 4, then hit another 3 after the Eagles got a defensive stop to bring Faith within one. Trinity got a bucket on their next possession, but Faith responded with their own bucket from Aaron Leistikow, then forced a turnover which Leistikow converted into another bucket to give the Eagles the lead back at 72-71 with five minutes to play. Jon Luke Talton then took over the game for the Eagles, scoring the next 6 points for Faith with a key 3 from Josh Bray to push the Eagle lead to 5 with a minute and a half to play. Trinity then misfired, got an offensive rebound, and misfired again, forcing them to foul. The Eagles made their free throws to push the lead to 7, then made enough free throws in the final minute to hold off any Trinity run and earn the victory.
After a miserable first half of shooting, the Eagles warmed up in the second half, shooting 60% while holding Trinity to 38%. Faith was also able to take advantage of the free throw line, getting there 30 times and converting on 20 of those attempts. The Eagles outrebounded Trinity 45-32, including 15 offensive rebounds.
Four Eagle men finished in double figures, with Josh Bray leading all scorers and rebounders with 29 points and 12 rebounds. Kupferschmid finished with 19 points, while Jon Luke Talton added 18 points and 7 assists. Aaron Leistikow added 13 to the total.
Faith advances to the regional championship for the first time since 2010-2011 season. The Eagles face top seed and nationally ranked North Central University. Faith fell to North Central during the first semester in Minneapolis. The game will tip at 3:00 PM.