EL CAJON, Calif. – Arizona Christian University (17-6, 7-4 GSAC), ranked number 25 in the NAIA National Top 25 Coaches' poll, outscored eighth-place San Diego Christian College (6-14, 3-8 GSAC), 18-4, over the final 6:02 of the game on its way to an 95-76 men's basketball victory over the Hawks, Tuesday, February 12, in the Ryan Athletics Center on the SDC campus in El Cajon, California. Arizona Christian won both meetings between the two schools this season, and the Firestorm has put together a modest three-game winning streak in the previous seven days.
Arizona Christian opened the game with an 18-4 run in the first 9:26 and built its first-half lead to 19 points twice, 29-10 with 7:10 left and 36-17 with 4:36 remaining. The Firestorm led 41-29 at halftime. and led 30-12, with 10:35 left. Junior forward Jordan Block (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Claremont H.S./Pasadena City College) scored 14 points and made all five of his shot attempts, including one three-pointer and junior guard Charles King (Houston, Tex./Stephen F. Austin H.S./Phoenix College) added 13 points and 3 three-pointers in the first half. Guard Kwaminique Brandon paced the Hawks with 10 first-half points.
San Diego Christian sliced Arizona Christian's advantage to five points, 48-43, with 16:16 left to play, but a run of nine consecutive points rebuilt Arizona Christian's lead to 16 points, 65-49, with 10:35 remaining in the game. San Diego Christian drew no closer than 11 points the rest of the game, and Arizona Christian reached its biggest lead of 22 points twice in the last 2:15 of the contest, including a 93-71 margin with 1:46 left.
Block, Arizona Christian's leading scorer and rebounder this season (15.5 ppg and 6.7 rpg), scored 10 more points in the second half, and King, who averages 14.6 points and 3.5 rebounds, added 11 second-half points, as both players finished with 24 points. Block went 8-for-10 from the field and made all seven of his free throws, grabbed nine rebounds, and had one three-pointer, one assist and two steals. King hit 9 of his 15 shots and 4 of his 5 three-pointers, and gathered seven rebounds, passed three assists and stole the ball once.
Senior guard A.J. Koch (Tucson, Ariz./Flowing Wells H.S.) totaled 14 points, making 6 of 7 free throws, and also had four rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Koch became the ninth Arizona Christian player to surpass the 1200 career point mark – Koch has scored 1206 points in 104 career games (11.60 ppg) and ranks fourth with 309 free throws made, fifth with 407 free throw attempts, and a .759 free throw percentage, 10th with 130 three-point field goals and a .447 field goal percentage, 11th with 385 field goals and a .364 three-point field goal percentage.
Freshman starting forward Jackson Helms (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley H.S.) finished with eight points, including 4-for-4 from the free throw line, and had four rebounds and one blocked shot, and junior guard Mason Jones (Huntington Beach, Calif./Ocean View H.S./Eastern Oregon Univ.) added nine points, 2 three-pointers and one steal. Junior guard Talib Uqdah (Detroit, Mich./Westview H.S. (Avondale, Ariz.)/Chandler-Gilbert CC), last week's GSAC Player of the Week, was held to two points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals and made no three-pointers after making 17 in his first three games since becoming academically eligible.
Forward Kevin Dawson led San Diego Christian with 19 points, 10 in the second half, 3 three-pointers and four rebounds, and Brandon finished with 17 pionts, four rebounds, four assists and one steal. Reserve forward Kortney Maxim added 12 points, six rebounds and one steal, and guard Derrick Thompson totaled 11 points and had three rebounds and one steal. Starting forward Peter Beale-Wirsing contributed eight points, 10 rebounds and one blocked shot.
The Firestorm went 31-for-60 from the field (.517) for the game and 8-for-20 from three-point range (.400) and a crisp 25-for-27 from the free throw line (.926), out-rebounded the Hawks, 39-31, committed 14 turnovers, blocked two shots and stole the ball eight times. San Diego Christian, which committed 12 turnovers, made 25 of 63 shots (.397), 4 of 21 three-pointers (.190) and 22 of 29 free throws (.759) and stole the ball five times.
Arizona Christian is tied for second place in the GSAC race with number 21-ranked Hope International University (22-5, 7-4 GSAC), which topped sixth-place Biola University (14-13, 4-7 GSAC), 60-47, Tuesday night at Biola.
Besides GSAC victories by Arizona Christian and number 21-ranked Hope International, Tuesday, Vanguard University (16-10, 5-6 GSAC) tied for fourth place with Concordia University (16-9, 5-6 GSAC), which received votes for the NAIA Top 25, by coming from behind to defeat the Eagles, 82-78, in The Pit in Costa Mesa, Calif., and first-place Westmont remained three games ahead of Arizona Christian and Hope International with an 63-54 home win over The Master's College (14-12, 3-8 GSAC).