ANKENY, Iowa—To call it the "Game of the Decade" wouldn't do the Eagles' thrilling, last-second win over #7 Central Christian justice. After all, the decade is only two weeks old. Game of the century? It would certainly be in the conversation as one of the greatest men's basketball games of this century for Faith, no doubt.
Central Christian College strolled into Ankeny on a cold and snowy Saturday as the seventh-ranked team in the nation in NCCAA Division II. But the player with the most ice in his veins on this January occasion was Faith freshman Nathan Keck, who hit a long three-pointer as time expired to send the Saints home with a loss and send the Eagles soaring into the second semester with some serious momentum for the rest of the season.
The Eagles were in control for much of the first half, building their largest lead of nine points with 6:22 remaining. Central Christian responded with a 17-6 run to end the half with a two-point lead. All five starters scored in the first half for the Eagles, who were just 14-of-40 from the field (3-of-10 from three).
Central Christian used its momentum from the end of the first half to build a 54-44 lead with 11:46 remaining in the game, and it looked like the outcome was in jeopardy for the Eagles. A pair of three-pointers by Jayce Goergen and Simon Allen kept the Eagles within striking distance, but it was a thunderous windmill dunk by Kalab Sidlinger with 5:19 remaining that really gave the Eagles the spark they needed, pulling Faith within five.
Central Christian put the raucous crowd at bay after Sidlinger's dunk by increasing their lead back to seven with just over two minutes to play, but a pair of Chase Clark baskets off the bench tied the game at 70 with 42 seconds remaining. After a missed jumper by Central Christian with 20 seconds to play, Faith held for the final shot, and freshman guard Nathan Keck rose above two defenders to bury a long three-pointer from the top of the key as time expired.
Keck's 17 points were a team-high for Faith, who also received double-digit scoring from Tanner Van Beek (12), Kalab Sidlinger (11), and Chase Clark (11). Clark also led the team with eight rebounds. Faith has outrebounded opponents by a margin of 10.8 rebounds per game this season—a big reason for their success.
With the win, the Eagles improved to 7-5 on the season. Faith will play at home three times this week: Tuesday against Union College, Friday against Calvary University (Gym Dedication Night), and Saturday against Oak Hills Christian.