The Ecclesia Royals (14-6) traveled to Conway, Arkansas to face Central Baptist College (7-14) in their second match-up of the year. The two teams are Central Region rivals within NCCAA Division 1 and the Mustangs of Central Baptist bested the Royals in Springdale earlier this year.
The Royals again got off to a very slow start trailing 14-4 in the early minutes of the game, but responded handily throughout the rest of the first half to bring the margin to 32-29 at the half. Both teams struggled to score in the early going with a very well-played defensive battle for both teams.
"Despite the score, I did not really think we were playing terrible, just some miscues here and there and quite honestly we just weren't making shots like we normally do."
The Royals shoot an impressive 48% from the field and 38% from three, but could not get things going until the start of the second half. With 10:46 to play freshman Jamarius Graves drilled a three which was followed by a CBC timeout and the Royals lead was extended to 53-47. The Royals continued to extend the lead, but then battled to keep control until the 3:00 mark when the Mustangs took a 68-67 lead. The Mustangs controlled the game the rest of the way leading to a 77-75 loss for the Royals.
Freshmen Jamarius Graves continues his scoring streak while leading the Royals with 25 points on the night going 5-11 from the three-point line with Randy Hempstead chipping in 13 points and 6 rebounds.
"It's hard to lose like that. We played hard, we played pretty well, and all but had it sealed. Some timely errors hurt us down the stretch, but I'm not sure anyone in the building could have asked for a better game."
"They're an NAIA Division 1 team and had they not changed conferences, we would be seeing them at the top of their conference for sure. They've got a lot of talent and we matched them step-for-step. No moral victories, but if you go down swinging and give it your all, not much more can be done."
Four of the last five meetings, spanning three years, between Central Baptist and Ecclesia have been decided by an average of 2.5 points. The rivalry goes on.
The Royals will travel to nearby Joplin, Missouri to face Ozark Christian College who has been receiving top 10 votes this month.