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An exciting and challenging weekend of men’s basketball for Rocky Mountain College will get under way tonight in the school’s Fortin Center.

The Battlin’ Bears will go up against nationally ranked Fresno Pacific University at 7:30 p.m.

While Rocky, reigning NAIA Division I national champion, is off to a 3-8 start, Fresno Pacific is 8-1 and ranked seventh in the latest Division I Top 25 poll.

The Sunbirds, who beat Rocky 93-79 last December in California and also advanced to the national tournament in Kansas City, are coming off an 85-50 victory at the University of Great Falls on Tuesday night.

“They’re just very well coached and they’ve got great players,” Rocky coach Bill Dreikosen said of the Sunbirds. “Those are two pretty tough things to go up against.”

James Lewis, an All-America guard, is averaging 15 points per game for FPU. All-Golden State Athletic Conference forward Todd Brown is leading the Sunbirds with his 17.5 points per game average.

Both Lewis and Brown have been explosive from 3-point range.

“We’ve got to have a great night from the defensive end,” Dreikosen said. “That’s a big challenge for us. We’ve got to defend and rebound. Offensively, we’ve just got to step up and make some plays.”

The Bears are being paced statistically by senior forward Anthony Allen’s 16.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Teammates Nate Richardson (14.1), EJ Ross (13.6) and Orlandor Westbrooks (10.5) are also carrying double-digit scoring averages.

Rocky will turn right around on Saturday and face NAIA Division II champion Oklahoma Wesleyan University in a 7:30 p.m. game. The Eagles, who have been ranked No. 1 in the past eight Division II polls, are 11-0 this season and riding an NAIA Division II-record 29-game winning streak.

OWU won 99-79 on Tuesday night at Southwestern Assemblies of God in Waxahachie, Texas.

Admission to Saturday’s game will be free to fans if they bring a new unwrapped toy or clothing item for a child to the game. The Christmas toys and clothing will be donated to Family Services, Inc., St. Vincent DePaul and Montana Rescue Mission.

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