PHOENIX, Ariz. – Arizona Christian University won its third consecutive game and improved its season record to 6-1 with a 93-79 non-conference men's basketball victory over Carroll College (0-10) from Helena, Montana, Tuesday, December 18, in Fultz Memorial Gymnasium on the A campus.
Arizona Christian, which ranks number one in the National Christian College Athletics Association (NCCAA) and second among all NAIA Division I members in team free throw percentage (.803) made 24 off 25 from the charity stripe against the Fighting Saints. The Firestorm made their first 20 free throws, going 11-for-11 in the first half and 9-for-9 in the second half before missing with 2:23 remaining in the game.
Arizona Christian, coached by Jeff Rutter, takes on La Sierra University (Calif.), Thursday, Dec. 20, at 7:30 p.m., in Fultz Memorial Gym on the Arizona Christian campus. In Arizona Christian's final game before an eight-day Christmas break, the Firestorm meets University of Great Falls at Scottsdale Community College, Saturday, Dec. 22, at 4 p.m.
Junior guard Mason Jones (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View H.S./Eastern Oregon Univ.) led all scorers in the game with 23 points and drilled 5 three-point field goals, passed six assists, gathered three rebounds and stole the ball twice, and senior guard A.J. Koch (Tucson, Ariz./Flowing Wells H.S.) added 18 points, 11 in the second half, and made 5 of 6 field goals and 7 of 7 free throw, passed five assists and stole the ball three times. Freshman forward Jackson Helms (Murrietta, Calif./Murrieta Valley H.S.) finished with 17 points, 12 in the second half, on 6 of 9 shots and 5 of 5 free throws, and grabbed eight rebounds. Junior guard Jordan Block (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Claremont H.S./Pasadena City College) finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, one blocked shot, two steals and one assist and made 6 of 7 free throws. Freshman forward Mike Navar (Chino, Calif./Chino Hills H.S.) gave Arizona Christian eight points, six in the second half, and three rebounds, and junior guard Charles King (Houston, Tex./Stephen F. Austin H.S./Phoenix College) contributed seven points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Guard Nick Jones led Carroll with 21 points, 16 in the second half, and had 3 three-pointers, two rebounds, two assists, one blocked shot and two steals, and guard Riley King finished with 18 points, 11 in the first half, 3 three-pointers, five rebounds, three assists, one blocked shot and one steal. Guard Chris McGrath added 10 points, 2 three-pointers, and three assists, and off the Fighting Saints' bench, forward Jake Hollifield contributed six points, seven rebounds and six assists, and guard Tyson Percifield scored nine points.
The Firestorm shot .492 from the field (30-61) for the game and made 9 of 20 from three-point range (.450), including 8 of 13 in the first half (.615) and 24 of 25 free throws (.960), and committed just eight turnovers. Arizona Christian also out-rebounded Carroll, 35-33, blocked two shots and stole the ball nine times from the Saints. Carroll shot .484 from the field (30-62), made 10 of 22 from three-point range (.455) and made 9 of 12 free throws (.750), committed 12 turnovers, blocked four shots and stole the ball from Arizona Christian five times.
The Firestorm gradually pulled away from Carroll in the first half, reaching its first double-digit lead, 33-23, with 7:33 left, and with nine consecutive points in a span of three minutes later in the half, led 44-28, with 3:10 to go before intermission, and led 51-37 at halftime. Arizona Christian's Mason Jones went 7-for-9 from the field, including 5-for-6 from three-point range and totaled 21 points in the first half. The Firestorm committed just four first-half turnovers and shot .615 (8-13) from three-point depth.
Carroll whittled down Arizona Christian's lead to five points, 63-58, with 11:21 remaining in the game, but Arizona Christian rebuilt its lead to a game-high 17 points during the next 6:31, and led 83-66 with 4:50 to go and stay ahead by at least 10 points the rest of the game.