PHOENIX, Ariz. – Arizona Christian University improved its record to 11-2 and won its first-ever Golden State Athletics Conference game, 84-82, over defending NAIA Division I national champion Concordia University (11-4, 0-1 GSAC), in collegiate men's basketball action, January 8, at Fultz Memorial Gymnasium on the ACU campus in Phoenix, Arizona.
Concordia led by six points twice in the first half, 33-27 with 4:45 left and 35-29 with 4:05 remaining, but Arizona Christian rallied to tie the game for the seventh time, 36-36, with 2:57 left and outscored the visiting Eagles, 9-2, over the last 2:10 and led 45-38 at the halftime intermission. Junior guard Charles King (Houston, Tex./Stephen F. Austin H.S./Phoenix College), junior guard Mason Jones (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View H.S./Eastern Oregon Univ.) and senior guard A.J. Koch (Tucson, Ariz./Flowing Wells H.S.) scored 11 points each in the first 20 minutes of action, and Concordia guard DeLaun Frazier canned 3 three-pointers for nine points.
In the second half, Arizona Christian shot .542 from the field (13-24) and survived 11 turnovers after committing just three in the first half. King scored 11 more points, and junior forward Jordan Block (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Claremont H.S./Pasadena City College) scored 12 of his game total of 14 points in the second 20-minute period. Arizona Christian gained four 12-point leads and led by 13 at one point, 61-48, with 10:11 left. The Firestorm led by 10 or more points from the 16:08 mark until Concordia sliced the lead to nine points, 64-55, with 8:06 remaining in the game. Arizona Christian rebuilt its lead to 12, 70-58, with 6:39 on the clock, and led 73-62 with 5:34 left.
A veteran Concordia team, coached by Ken Ammann, battled back and trailed by four points twice, 77-73 with 2:51 left and 83-79 with 1:00 left. A three-pointer by Frazier, his fifth of the game, trimmed the lead to 83-82 with 11 seconds remaining, and a free throw by junior forward Daniel Cornelius (Phoenix, Ariz./Phoenix Christian H.S.) with 8.1 seconds left gave Arizona Christian an 84-82 lead, and Cornelius' second free throw missed and was rebounded by Concordia guard Tim Harris, and the Eagles missed a last-second shot and took the ball out of bounds with four-tenths of a second showing on the clock after Arizona Christian tipped the rebound out of bounds. Time expired before Concordia could get off another shot.
King finished with 22 points, 2 three-pointers, six rebounds, three assists and one steal, and made 7 of his 12 shots and went 6-for-8 at the free throw line. Block, Arizona Christian's second-leading scorer and top rebounder (15.7 ppg and 6.5 rpg), totaled 14 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots, and Koch finished with 14 points, 3 three-pointers, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Jones added 13 points, hitting 7 of his 8 free throws, and passed four assists, blocked a shot and stole the ball twice, and Cornelius contributed 8 points, one three-pointer, six rebounds and two assists off the Arizona Christian bench. Freshman forward Jackson Helms (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley H.S.) added nine points and nine rebounds, and freshman forward Mike Navar (Chino, Calif./Chino Hills H.S.) gathered seven rebounds and two steals and scored two points.
Three Concordia players scored 15 points each -- Senior forward Dakota Downs, the Eagles' second leading scorer and top rebounder (11.5 ppg and 8.2 rpg) finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds and made 5 of his 7 shots, and Frazier totaled 15 points with 5 three-pointers and had two assists in his reserve role. Reserve guard Alex Rudd also scored 15 points with 2 three-pointers and dished out three assists. Harris added six points, eight rebounds, three assists, one blocked shot and one steal, and senior forward Brandon Hucks totaled 8 points, four rebounds and one steal. Concordia's bench players outscored Arizona Christian's, 41-12.
The Firestorm made 29 of 63 shots (.460) in the game and went 6-for-14 from three-point range (.429), and 20-for-33 from the free throw line (.606), out-rebounded Concordia, 44-38, with 16 offensive boards, and committed 17 turnovers, blocked three shots, and stole the ball seven times from the Eagles. Arizona Christian led 34-30 in points in the paint and 18-11 in second-chance points off offensive rebounds.
Concordia made 29 of 63 shots (.460), 8 of 22 three-pointers (.364) and 16 of 27 free throws (.593), committed 14 turnovers, and stole the ball six times from Arizona Christian.
Coached by Jeff Rutter, Arizona Christian plays its next GSAC game Saturday, January 12, hosting The Master's College (11-5, 0-1 GSAC), at 7:30 p.m., in Fultz Memorial Gymnasium. The Arizona Christian women's basketball team hosts undefeated and eighth-ranked Master's (14-0, 1-0 GSAC), Saturday at 5:30 p.m.