The four seniors for BJU’s men’s basketball team went out with a bang Saturday, as the Bruins dismantled the College of Faith Warriors 102–84 on Senior Night. Seniors Ray Holden, Kyle Turner, Noah Smith and Kirtis Yurchak led the way for the Bruins, contributing a combined 74 points to overcome the undermanned Warriors.
The Bruins set the pace from the tip, as Smith hit his first of five three-pointers from the top of the arc. His three sparked the Bruins, and they opened the game on a 14–5 run. That lead quickly expanded to 21–9 with another three from Smith.
The Warriors were barely able to keep up in the first half, and were able to do so only because of sloppy offensive play and a porous Bruin defense. Turner and Marshall Riddle added treys of their own, and the Bruins took a 54–42 lead into the half.
The second half was a reflection of the first. Yurchak and Turner opened the game up with phenomenal passing from the post and in transition, and the Bruins steadily built on their lead. The Warriors made a late run, but it proved ineffective as the Bruins held off the Warriors to win their final regular season game 102–84
Turner came one point shy of the school record, recording 34 total points while Smith tallied 21. Turner also pulled down 10 rebounds and had three steals.
Both Turner and Holden were part of the original Bruins’ intercollegiate basketball team started four years ago, and they obviously have been very influential in shaping the young program.
Turner holds six different program records, including all time leading scorer (1,450 so far), career rebounds (861), and steals (107).
Holden is third in the young program’s history in points and steals, and second in rebounds.
Smith, considered a three-point specialist that primarily came off the bench, hit 85 threes in his two years with the program. Yurchak tallied 297 points and 206 rebounds in two full seasons of play for the Bruins.
The seniors reminisced about favorite memories throughout the last few years, including victories over rival Pensacola Christian College and Turner’s game-winning three pointer to beat Warren Wilson College last season. But they eventually agreed that the best memories were just spending time together on road trips and the trip to Puerto Rico during Christmas break this January.
Afterward, Coach Ring spoke fondly of the four seniors—and not just about their abilities on the court.
“Noah is a deep thinker— he challenged me to think,” Ring said. “He always challenged me with the way he thought. There is no surface Christianity there. He is very deep and very passionate about his faith.”
“[Yurchak] has leadership qualities that have poured over into our team and some of our younger guys that have benefited specifically from his leadership in their life.”
Coach Ring also opened up about Holden and Turner—the only two players who have been with the program since its inception in 2012.
“Any time you spend four years with guys and see their struggles and their pain… It’s not just about basketball. We walk through life together. That’s the biggest thing I take away from my seniors. We walk through life together. We sit in that office and we talk about life.”
The 2015–2016 campaign has been full of ups and downs for the Bruins squad, as the victory Saturday broke a streak of five straight losses. The team is 15–15 overall, but the season has been about so much more than just basketball.
The Bruins will take the court, perhaps for the final time this year, in the NCCAA South Regional Tournament against Carver College on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Davis Field House. The championship game will be played Saturday at 3 p.m.
Since the tournament is held by the NCCAA, tickets are required for entry. For students ninth grade and up the rate is $2 with a valid ID; the adult rate is $3.