FULLERTON, Calif. - Matt Green scored a game-high 24 points to lead Hope International to a 70-52 victory over the Bellevue University basketball team on Monday night in the first game of the Hope Classic. Hope International, ranked No. 10 in the preseason NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll, improves to 5-0 on the year while Bellevue falls to 5-1 but remains unbeaten against fellow Division II teams.
Hope International opened up a 33-18 lead by the time the halftime whistle sounded.
Bellevue looked strong in the early going, gaining an early 8-4 edge while making three of their first six shots and both free throw attempts in the opening 5:31. Hope International responded with a 15-3 run to claim a 19-11 advantage. Senior Dimitri Chonis (Tucson, Ariz.) hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 19-14 but that would be as close as the Bruins got the rest of the way.
The second half was a more evenly played period with Hope International out-scoring Bellevue by just three points (37-34).
Bellevue turned the ball over a respectable 13 times but it wasn't enough to overcome their 35.8 percent (19-53) effort from the floor. The Bruins forced Hope International into 14 turnovers but was only able to turn that into 12 points while the Royals scored 21 points off Bellevue turnovers.
The Royals gained a 33-28 rebounding edge for the game and shot 57.4 (27-47) percent from the field, including 42.9 percent (6-14) from beyond the arc.
Bellevue was not helped by their poor performance from the line, as they made just 12 of 21 free throws.
Junior Ian Randolph (Mt. Vernon, Ill.) supported the offensive effort with eight points while Chonis and junior Anthony Rounds (Perris, Calif.) each added six points, respectively. Rounds also added a team-best five rebounds.
The Bruins will return to the court tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. when they take on Biola University in their second, and final, game of the Hope Classic.