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COLLEGE SPORTS

Jessup men pick up huge win over No. 7 Hope

Homecoming crowd rewarded
By: Robert Marten for The News Messenger/Placer Herald
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It was an electric atmosphere in Warrior Arena Saturday night for homecoming where Jessup (15-6, 7-3) was set to take on their best opponent yet, No. 7 Hope International University (18-4, 7-2) in a Golden State Athletic Conference tilt.

Trailing by 17 in the closing stretches of the first half, the Warriors put on one of the greatest comebacks in school history to knock the Royals off their thrown, winning 70-61. It showed the nation that Jessup is a force to be reckoned with.

“(Hope International) controlled the tempo, and the style of play the first 20-minutes,” said Von Vogt. “I told our guys when we were down 17 with about four minutes left that we needed to get the lead under 10 by halftime, we’re going to be just fine, and that’s exactly what we did.

“We played their game in the first half; they played our game in the second half. This was two great teams. I have the utmost respect for Hope International. I believe them to be one of the top three or four teams in the country.”

Despite the home crowd providing all the energy, Hope came out hot. Several unforced errors by the Warriors became turnovers and finally Von Vogt felt obligated to call timeout with a 6-0 deficit. Von Vogt was able to calm his team and the Warriors came out of the timeout on a 4-0 run.

After vying to establish dominance over the pace of the game each team settled in to their rhythm and the back-and-forth battle began. The first 10-minutes saw Hope super hot from the 3-point arc reaching the point of frustration when they hit a banked long ball from 5 feet behind the arc at the end of the shot clock. In fact, after 10-minutes of play the Royals were 5-6 from behind the extra point arc.

The remainder of the first half continued to result in missed shots for Jessup and made baskets for Hope. The early 3-point clinic opened up a lot of post and backdoor opportunities, as Jessup fought to deny any big-point shots. Despite the mismatched field goal percentages, however, Jessup managed to close the half down by only nine points.

Both teams appeared to have discussed defensive strategy during the break because not a point was added to the scoreboard for the first minute and a half. But it was the Warriors who struck first determined to chip away. Then all of a sudden, in less than 40-seconds, Jessup hit three quick layups to cut the Royals’ lead to 39-36.

After a great deal of work and a great deal of patience on the part of the Warriors, they finally worked their way back into the lead with nine minutes remaining in the game as senior Corey Clement drove hard to the basket grabbing the finish, the foul, and the subsequent free throw.

The momentum kept rolling for the Warriors until they saw their biggest lead of night, 57-48, forcing Hope to call a timeout. Hope came out of the break energized and went on a 7-2 run of their own but couldn’t manage to completely close the gap. The Warriors carried a three-point lead into the final minute.

On the possession in the final minute, senior Desmond Floyd stripped the ball from Hope and in the commotion Hope called a timeout they didn’t have. The technical foul gave Clement a free throw, which he hit.

Soon after, Jessup came up with a big stop followed by a fast break for a massive slam dunk by Floyd with a foul and 24 seconds on the clock. Floyd sank the free throw giving the Warriors a 67-61 lead, but there was still time for the Royals.

Micheal Patterson collected a defensive rebound and was given the opportunity to put the game away with two free throws. He hit one making it a three-possession game and ending Hope’s chances.

It was Jessup’s second win against a top 10 team in as many games. With the final buzzer sounding, the Warrior fans rushed the court to celebrate the big 70-61 victory.

After the game, Von Vogt was very ecstatic about the support from the crowd and the atmosphere inside the Warrior Arena for William Jessup University’s 2016 homecoming game.

“We love when our student section fills up like it did tonight. Our guys love this campus so much and enjoy this campus so much, and so much of their effort goes to it. To see the student body come out in full force and support us with such passion and pride gave our guys the energy to make that second half push. I can’t discount the crowd at all.”

Jessup got a combined effort from a number of different players. Senior Saajid Polite (Sacramento) turned in yet another strong performance, leading the way with 14 points and five assists. Floyd recorded 13 points and senior Andre Smith finished with 11.

The season now begins a different challenge, as four of the final six games for Jessup will take place on the road.

The first will be on Tuesday when the Warriors travel to Southern California to take on Biola University. Biola will be looking for some revenge, as Jessup was victorious in their previous meeting on Jan. 14. Game time Tuesday is 7:30 p.m.

Jessup 80, Arizona Christian 75

“Upset” is starting to be a reoccurring thing inside the Warrior Arena. In fact, they happen so often that it’s fair to say these wins are no longer considered to be “upsets.”

With another formidable opponent Thursday, the Warriors battled down to the wire with No. 10 Arizona Christian University (17-4, 5-3). After taking a big double-digit lead, the Firestorm fought back but couldn’t overcome the red hot Warriors, as Jessup solidified themselves as real contenders in the NAIA winning 80-75.

“We don’t really worry about what other people think about us. We trust the process, we have faith in each other, and we have faith in the man upstairs. We play for things we can’t see. With that, I think that we can move mountains, and that’s what you’re starting to see this team do,” said an ecstatic Von Vogt after the game. “We believe in who we are and what we can do. We believe that with a proper effort we can beat anyone in the (GSAC). I believe that we’re proving that now.”

The Warriors made the Firestorm work from the outset of the game, with their first offensive possession lasting nearly a minute while collecting two fouls against their opponents and three points. The possession was just a precursor to an intense battle that would last throughout the evening.

Floyd looked to gain the advantage down low early in the game, scoring four consecutive points in the first five minutes. Foul trouble would plague the Warriors early; however, with defensive expert Polite collecting two in the opening five and heading to the bench.

The Firestorm found their own hot streak from the field, going ahead of the Warriors until Polite buried a long-range 3 with eight minutes remaining in the first half which was quickly followed by a strong post move from Floyd forcing the Firestorm to call a timeout.

Despite Jessup moving to a zone defense, or perhaps because of it, the game sped up.  The zone dared the Firestorm to toss long balls at the basket early in the shot clock and they accepted the dare, but missed.

The Warriors, on the other hand, were disciplined in holding to their game plan, running at Arizona Christian early before kicking the ball to open 3-point shooters. Clement capitalized with two 3-pointers giving the Warriors an eight point lead and forcing another Firestorm timeout in the final stretch of the first half.

Jessup managed to build a 13-point lead before Arizona Christian started driving to the basket. The Jessup zone was a touch slow to make the adjustment and the Firestorm made a chip in their deficit, but the Warriors closed the half up eight points 44-36.

There wasn’t a person in the crowd who faulted the fight being shown between either team after the first half and the epic battle raged on into the second half. Each team looked to score off the fast break at the outset of the second half of play, but the efforts were a near wash when the clock showed 15 minutes with a score of 51-42 in favor of WJU.

Things started moving after the clock dropped below the eight-minute mark, as the Firestorm coach initiated a shouting match with the referees; the referees soon ended the match with a technical foul on the visiting coach. The ordeal served to fuel a burst of energy from Arizona Christian as they whittled the Jessup lead to four with five minutes remaining in the game.

Things looked bleak for the Warriors as they made two turnovers rushing the ball down the floor with one minute remaining and a three-point lead. They made it up defensively, however; capped off by Patterson taking a key offensive foul.

Clement calmed the Warriors and bled the shot clock before taking it to the rack himself for a bucket and putting the Warriors up by two possessions with 30 seconds remaining.

Arizona Christian calmly answered with a 3-pointer and a quick foul. Jessup hit 1-of-2 from the free-throw line and it was a three point Jessup lead with 20 seconds. ACU tried the identical three they made the possession before, but a huge hustle from s Smith put the ball not more than a centimeter long and it rattled out.

With the final seconds closing, Patterson was fouled. He made both of the free throws to give Jessup a five-point lead and ice the game. The win was Jessup’s second against a top-10 ranked opponent in the last two weeks.

Clement was off the charts Thursday night, leading all scorers with 35 points. The performance sets a new William Jessup single-game record.

“Corey is an absolute talent,” Von Vogt said. “He can get you a triple-double one night, and then the next he creates a mix-match problem because he’s an inside-outside guy. His leadership tonight was invaluable. He scored the biggest basket of the night when we needed it most.

“This was one of the most poised and composed games I have seen from Corey, and I’ve been coaching him all the way since junior college all the way through here. I’m so glad he’s here with me.”

Thursday was the annual Suits and Sneakers, Coaches vs. Cancer night. Coaches from both teams wore sneakers in support of cancer awareness. Half of the proceeds brought in for Thursday night's contest were donated to the American Cancer Society. To donate, please visit www.cancer.org.

“I believe cancer is one of the most important issues today,” said Von Vogt. “Personally, my mother has battled breast cancer on two occasions and has been victorious in her battle. She’s been clear of any cancer for 10 years. The ability for us to raise money for that cause and keep it at the forefront of society’s mind is so important because lives are being extended, and people are getting the chance to keep family members around longer. It’s something near and dear to my heart.”

Follow WJU athletics at www.jessupathletics.com or on social media on Facebook and @JessupAthletics (Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat).