FOREST CITY, Iowa -- After getting out to an early 11-point lead the No. 22-ranked Bellevue University men's basketball team was not able to hold on as they fell to NAIA Division I (RV) Hope International University 81-66 on Friday evening at Hanson Fieldhouse in the Waldorf Classic.
#22 Bellevue: 3-3
(D1-RV) Hope International: 5-0
Bellevue jumped out to a big lead on the strength of some hot shooting early on. The Bruins hit on nine of their first 13 field goal attempts and Jemeil King capped a 13-2 run with three free throws at the 12:48 mark to put BU up 22-11.
Hope International fought back, out-scoring Bellevue 24-12 over the next 8:32 to take their first lead of the game, 35-34, on a jumper from Eric Toles.
The Royals pushed their lead to as many as eight points with a minute to play when Michael Fry hit the front end of a pair of free throws.
A layup by Jaylen Wiltz with 29 seconds to play cut the Bruin deficit to six points as HIU took a 44-38 lead into halftime.
Bellevue's Niamey Harris and Hope International's Anthony Garcia led their respective teams with nine points apiece at the intermission.
Jemeil King, one of five Bruins with at least five points in the opening 20 minutes, led Bellevue with five assists in the first half.
BU out-shot the Royals 55.6-45.5 percent in the first half but an 8-of-15 effort from long range and 10 offensive rebounds that led to nine second chance points had the Royals ahead after 20 minutes.
Bellevue managed to start the second half well, using an 18-12 start to tie the game. Trailing 56-51, Connor Dukes drained a three before forcing a turnover at the defensive end that led to a Bruin fast break and a tip-in from Jaron Dickson that brought BU level.
The Royals then regained a lead, pushing their advantage to 68-62. Harris hit one of two free throws but Bellevue went cold from there as HIU used a 12-0 run, part of a larger 20-6 spurt, over the ensuing 3:20 to put the game away.
Garcia finished with 20 to lead the Royals who received 15 points apiece from Toles and Josh Powell-Davis off the bench.
Bellevue wraps up play at the Waldorf Classic tomorrow afternoon with a 2 p.m. tip-off against NAIA Division I No. 3-ranked Wayland Baptist University.