PHOENIX, Ariz. – Arizona Christian University gained a double-digit lead with seven seconds left in the first half and led by no fewer than eight points in the second half on its way to an 84-69 Golden State Athletics Conference men's basketball victory over The Master's College (11-5, 0-2 GSAC), January 12, at Fultz Memorial Gymnasium on the ACU campus in Phoenix.
The Master's College led by seven points four times in the first 11:21 of the first half before ACU tied the game finally at 23 with 5:24 remaining and reached a 10-point lead, 33-23, when junior forward Daniel Cornelius (Phoenix, Ariz./Phoenix Christian H.S.) drilled a three-pointer with seven seconds left before intermission. ACU committed just seven first-half turnovers and shot .478 from the field (11-23) while the visiting Mustangs committed 14 and shot just .357 from the field (10-28) in the opening 20 minutes.
Oddly, TMC's two leading scorers this season, guards Devin Dyer (13.6 ppg) and Leif Karlberg (12.8 ppg), scored no points in the first half, and ACU's leading scorer, junior guard Charles King (Houston, Tex./Stephen F. Austin H.S./Phoenix College), who averages 15.8 points, also scored no first-half points.
ACU held at least a 10-point lead through the second half, except for a five-second stretch when TMC sliced the Firestorm's lead to eight points, 35-27, with 17:28 left in the game. The hosts led by as many as 21 points, 71-50, with 4:09 left, and the closest the Mustangs came was 13 points, 73-60, with 3:11 remaining.
Five Firestorm players scored 11 or more points, led by senior guard A.J. Koch (Tucson, Ariz./Flowing Wells H.S.), who finished with a season-high 23 points, 14 in the second half, with 3 three-pointers and made 7 of his 12 shots and all six of his free throws, and grabbed six rebounds. Koch moved into tenth place on ACU's all-time scoring list with 1106 points in 95 career games (11.64 ppg), and became the 11th ACU player to reach the 1100 career point mark.
Freshman forward Jackson Helms (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley H.S.) recorded a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, and hit all six of his field goals, blocked one shot and stole the ball once. King scored all 13 of his points in the second half with 3 three-pointers and also passed three assists, and junior guard Mason Jones (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View H.S./Eastern Oregon Univ.) scored 13 points with 3 three-pointers, four rebounds, eight assists, two blocked shots and one steal. Junior forward Jordan Block (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Claremont H.S./Pasadena City College) scored 11 points with 2 three-pointers, and had two rebounds, four assists, one blocked shot and two steals. Cornelius contributed eight points, one three-pointer, six rebounds, two assists and one steal off the ACU bench.
Four Master's players scored 10 or more points, led by sophomore forward Chris Patureau with 18 points and 13 rebounds and two steals. Dyer finished with 17 points, all in the second half, but made just 5 of his 22 shots and went 2-for-9 from three-point range, however Karlberg fouled out with 4:09 left in the second half with no points. Dyer also had four rebounds, three assists and five steals and made all five of his free throw attempts before he fouled out late in the contest. Guard Jason Logan totaled 14 points and 12 rebounds and had three steals, and reserve guard Derrick Fain contributed 10 points, three rebounds and two assists.
The Firestorm made 26 of its 54 shots (.481) in the game and went 12-for-27 from three-point range (.444), and 20-for-29 from the free throw line (.690) and committed 15 turnovers, blocked four shots, and stole the ball eight times from the Mustangs. The Master's College, which out-rebounded ACU, 46-40, and had 18 offensive rebounds, made just 23 of its 73 shots (.315), 5 of 26 three-pointers (.192) and 18 of 22 free throws (.818), committed 18 turnovers, and stole the ball 11 times from ACU.
Coached by Jeff Rutter, ACU plays its next GSAC game, Tuesday, January 15, against Hope International University (17-1, 2-0 GSAC) at Darling Pavilion in Fullerton, California, at 7:30 p.m. Hope International defeated no. 15 Concordia (11-5, 0-2 GSAC), 101-91, Jan. 12. The ACU women's basketball team meets Hope International (8-9, 0-2 GSAC), a 66-58 loser to Concordia, Jan. 12, in the 5:30 p.m. first game of the GSAC doubleheader, Jan. 15. In other GSAC men's basketball action Saturday night, no. 8 Westmont (14-3, 2-0 GSAC) defeated San Diego Christian (4-7, 1-1 GSAC), 90-72, and Vanguard (11-5, 1-1 GSAC) defeated Biola (10-8, 0-2 GSAC), 76-57.