PHOENIX, Ariz. – Arizona Christian University (15-6, 5-4 GSAC) took sole possession of third place in the Golden State Athletics Conference standings with a 101-86 men's basketball victory over the NAIA's number 15-ranked team Hope International University (21-4, 6-3 GSAC), the second-place team in the GSAC, Tuesday, February 5, in Fultz Memorial Gym on the ACU campus. Arizona Christian, which dropped out of the Feb. 5 NAIA Top 25 ranking to the "received votes" category after a loss last week, avenged its 71-51 loss at Hope International from Jan. 12.
The Firestorm scored a season-high with 101 points and made 14 three-pointers, seven by Junior guard Talib Uqdah (Detroit, Mich./Westview H.S. (Avondale, Ariz.)/Chandler-Gilbert CC), who now has scored 28 points in each of his first two games of the season and has totaled 15 three-pointers in the two games.
Arizona Christian scored eight consecutive points at the start of a 23-4 run over a span of six minutes and ended the run with 12 consecutive points that propelled the Firestorm to a 40-20 advantage with 5:53 left in the first half, Arizona Christian's biggest lead of the half. Uqdah hit a pair of three-point field goals and two free throws for eight points, and junior guard Charles King (Houston, Tex./Stephen F. Austin H.S./Phoenix College) accounted for five points during the streak. Uqdah scored 22 of his 28 points and made 6 three-pointers in 7 attempts in the first half, and King added 12 points and 2 three-pointers in the opening half, while forward Orlando Collins led Hope International with 12 first-half points.
The Firestorm lived up to their nickname in the first half by making 187 of their 27 shots (.667) and 10 of their 12 three-point shots (.833), and committed just four first-half turnovers. Hope International made 14 of its 31 first-half shots (.452) but just one of 11 from three-point range and committed five turnovers.
Arizona Christian led by at least 14 points throughout the first 14:17 of the second half and led by as many as 21 points, 80-59, with 8:27 left. The Royals sliced Arizona Christian's advantage to 11 points, 97-86, with 1:13 left in the game. Arizona Christian's shooting cooled down to 16-for-30 (.533) with 4 three-pointers in the second half, while Hope International made 18 of 43 shots (.419) and 4 three-pointers.
Uqdah finished with 28 points, made seven of 10 three-pointers, grabbed three rebounds, passed six assists and stole the ball once from the Royals, and King finished with 14 points, 2 three-pointers and two assists. Junior forward Jordan Block (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Claremont H.S./Pasadena City College) finished with 16 points, eight in each half, a game-high eight rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal, and senior guard A.J. Koch (Tucson, Ariz./Flowing Wells H.S.) totaled 19 points, 14 in the second half, made all three of his three-point field goal attempts and all six of his free throws, grabbed six rebounds and passed four assists.
Junior guard Mason Jones (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View H.S./Eastern Oregon Univ.) contributed nine points, one three-pointer, six rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot in a reserve role, and freshman forward Mike Navar (Chino, Calif./Chino Hills H.S.) made all three of his shots for six points and grabbed six rebounds in a reserve role. Freshman starting forward Jackson Helms (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley H.S.) finished with four points, six rebounds, four assists and one blocked shot, and junior forward Daniel Cornelius (Phoenix, Ariz./Phoenix Christian H.S.) added five points, one three-pointer and three rebounds off the bench.
Guard Jeremy Kilgore led the Royals with 23 points, 21 in the second half, and had one three-pointer and 12 of 16 free throws, four rebounds and three assists. Collins finished with 17 points, 2 three-pointers, seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks, and guard Kris Rosales added 16 points, eight in each half, four rebounds, two assists and five steals, four of which turned into breakaway lay-ups. Forward Austin Sanford totaled 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot, and forward Brandon Rowe had 8 points and 5 rebounds.
The Firestorm made 34 of their 57 shots (.596) for the game and went 14-for-22 from three-point range (.636) and 19-for-25 from the free throw line (.760), out-rebounded Hope International, 41-32, committed 13 turnovers, blocked four shots and stole the ball from the Royals three times. Hope International, which committed just five turnovers in the game, made 32 of its 74 shots (.432), 5 of 25 three-pointers (.200) and 17 of 24 free throws (.708), stole the ball five times and blocked four Arizona Christian shots.
In other GSAC men's basketball action Tuesday, number six-ranked Westmont College (20-4, 8-1 GSAC) defeated Vanguard, 76-65, in Santa Barbara, and Biola University (13-12, 3-6, GSAC) won 76-68 at home over San Diego Christian College (6-12, 3-6 GSAC), which upset Westmont last Saturday. Concordia (15-8, 4-5 GSAC) moved into a fourth-place tie with Vanguard by winning at home over The Master's College (14-10, 3-6 GSAC), 66-55.