PHOENIX, Ariz. – Arizona Christian University (9-1) trailed by 14 points, 48-34, with 15:07 left in the game, but outscored Jamestown College (7-8), 30-11, over the rest of the game and pulled out a 64-59 non-conference men's basketball victory, Sunday, December 30, at Arizona Christian's Fultz Memorial Gymnasium. Three-point field goals by senior guard A.J. Koch (Tucson, Ariz./Flowing Wells H.S.) with 2:19 left and junior guard Mason Jones (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View H.S./Eastern Oregon Univ.) with 14 seconds left lifted the Firestorm to a pair of five-point leads late in the game.
Coached by Jeff Rutter, Arizona Christian won its sixth consecutive game, and its nine wins in its first 10 games is the best start in its men's basketball history.
Jamestown led by as many as eight points in the first half, 27-19, with 5:47 left and trailed just 31-28 at halftime after a three-pointer with 14 seconds left by junior guard Jordan Block (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Claremont H.S./Pasadena City College), Arizona Christian's leading scorer at 15.5 points per game. Both teams shot just 35 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, and Jamestown led 5-2 in three-point field goals. Block led Arizona Christian with 9 points, and guards Mark Hoge and Taylor Newton led Jamestown in the first half with 10 and 8 points respectively and both players drilled 2 three-pointers.
Arizona Christian closed the gap to 33-32 with 18:01 left in the second half, but five consecutive three-pointers in the next three minutes, three by forward Davon Thomas, gave the Jimmies a 48-34 lead with 15:07 left to play, Jamestown's biggest lead of the contest.
Junior guard Derek James (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Alta Loma H.S.) began the Firestorm's game-winning rally with a pair of driving lay-ups in a span of 36 seconds, and over the final 15 minutes, Arizona Christian outscored Jamestown, 30-11, and erased the 14-point deficit. During the run, Koch scored eight points with 2 three-pointers and two free throws, and junior guard Charles King (Houston, Tex./Stephen F. Austin H.S./Phoenix College), who scored a season-high 32 points in Arizona Christian's Dec. 22 win over Univ. of Great Falls, accounted for seven points with a three-pointer, a two-point jump shot, and two free throws.
King's jumper at 4:34 tied the game at 54, and Koch's free throws at 3:11 gave Arizona Christian since the 12:59 mark of the first half, and Koch's three-pointer at 2:19 put Arizona Christian ahead, 59-54. Thomas answered with a three-pointer for Jamestown with 1:32 left, cutting Arizona Christian's lead to 59-57. Freshman forward Jackson Helms (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley H.S.) scored a lay-up with 1:05 left off Koch's expert assist, and Hoge scored a lay-up for Jamestown with 54 seconds left, making the score 61-59.
After Jamestown's timeout with 44 seconds left, Arizona Christian worked the ball around the perimeter, and Block finally found Jones open for a three-pointer with 14 seconds remaining, and Arizona Christian led 64-59. Jamestown reserve Beny Collins missed a three-pointer with three seconds left, and Block rebounded and held on for the Arizona Christian comeback victory.
Arizona Christian returns to action on Monday, Dec. 31 in a 3 p.m. game against Jamestown College in Fultz Memorial Gym on the Arizona Christian campus. Next week, Arizona Christian also hosts South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Saturday, January 5, at 1 p.m. (please note the time change for the Jan. 5 home game).