The St. Joseph Jayhawks invaded the home court of Intermountain Christian Wednesday night and mounted a six-point lead by the end of the first quarter. The Lions then got it together.
"We had trouble finding our offensive rhythm," said Coach Bodie Christiansen. But when they did, ICS took over the game and prevailed by a 56-45 score.
"Our defense leads us into our offense," said Christiansen, and in a game in which the basketball looked like a hot potato, the term rhythm may not have applied but defense certainly did apply.
The diminutive Justin Tsuyuki just hounded St. Joseph's leading scorer, Vance Knudsen, until the frustrated Knudsen finally fouled out on an offensive foul in the fourth quarter.
Late in the second quarter, Knudsen was called for an offensive foul and added a technical after which two free throws by the Lions tied the game at 18. ICS was never headed after that point. Jake Eyre hit a half-court shot just before the half-time buzzer to stake the Lions to a 26-20 lead.
Tsuyuki may not be 5 feet tall, and with his boyish looks, he could pass for an 11-year-old. But he darted around the floor like a water bug, and by the time Knudsen left the contest, he probably thought he was playing: "Are you quicker than a fifth-grader?"
The Lions began the third quarter right where they left off and built the lead to 34-22. The Jayhawks closed the gap somewhat, but after Knudsen fouled out they were out of steam. He finished with a team-high 11 points.
The Lions slowed the game down in the fourth quarter but really couldn't hold on to the ball, and Eyre finally broke loose on a couple of fast-break layups to cement the game. Again credit the defense.
Brandon Voet also fouled out for St. Joseph and earlier he had teamed with Knudsen to produce a formidable one-two punch. Josh Allen fouled out for ICS in the foul-plagued contest.Peter Spence scored 13 points for the Lions settling right on his season average. Eyre led all scorers with 19 points and played a physical inside game, piling up a number of rebounds as well.