The Eagle men hosted Ecclesia College (Springdale, AR) this past Friday night for the Eagle's first home game of their season. The game was the night cap in the Eagle's annual Faith Classic basketball tournament. This year's classic featured Association Free Lutheran Bible School (ACCA), Ozark Christian College (NCCAA II), Ecclesia (NCCAA I), and the Eagles. Faith took a 3-0 lead early in the game and never trailed, although Ecclesia made it very interesting in the second half as Faith was able to come away with a 95-90 victory to move to 2-0 on the season.
Faith jumped on Ecclesia by 12, leading 19-7 four and a half minutes into the game. The Eagles then built on that lead, stringing together a 17-6 run over the next eight minutes to lead by 23 with six minutes left in the first half. Faith would maintain that lead into the break as they were up 52-28 at halftime.
The Eagles knew the second half could be a different story and right from the start Ecclesia began to play much better basketball. The Eagles missed their first three shots and turned the ball over on their fourth possession and the visitors took advantage, scoring on all four of their possessions to quickly cut the lead to fifteen less than two minutes into the half. With thirteen minutes to play Ecclesia cut the lead to seven as they opened the half with a 25-8 run. The Eagles were able to maintain their lead over the next six minutes, pushing it back to 10 a couple times but Ecclesia kept coming, pulling within four with six to play. Faith again ran it back to 10 and kept it between five and 10 for the next four minutes, leading 87-77 with just under two minutes to play.
Ecclesia had one more run in them as the Eagles had some struggles with finishing the game. With 36 seconds left in the game Ecclesia cut the lead to four. Faith was able to get the ball in but on the ensuing play were called for traveling when two player's legs got tangled up. Faith fouled Ecclesia and they made one of two free throws to pull within three but Faith again turned it over after securing the rebound on the missed free throw and Ecclesia converted to pull within one. Faith called timeout, got the ball in and got it across half court, forcing Ecclesia to foul. The Eagles made both free throws to push the lead back to three, then secured the defensive rebound on a missed three by Ecclesia with three seconds left. Faith iced the game with two more free throws for the 95-90 victory.
"Ecclesia is a very good team and they showed that in the second half. We played very well in the first half and did enough in the end to hold on for the win. I'm so happy for the men and for their hard work in practice the last week and in tonight's game. They showed real heart and work ethic and the Lord allowed us to enjoy a victory as a result," stated coach Fincham.
The Eagle's Jon Luke Talton had a career night, scoring 39 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Josh Bray finished with 18 and Ryan Kupferschmid added 12. Jason Scheps missed a double double by one point, scoring nine while grabbing 10 rebounds and handing out four assists. Mark Young did a phenomenal job defensively for the Eagles while also handing out four assists.
The Eagles jump right back into it, facing off against a talented Association Free Lutheran Bible School Saturday evening at 6:00 PM.