As the final hours of 2013 ticked away and the famed ball prepared to drop in New York City, Arizona Christian was dropping a ball of its own on Mount Marty College in Phoenix.
No. 6 Arizona Christian University's men's basketball team finished off the 2013 year with a bang Tuesday night, as the Firestorm defeated the Lancers of Mount Marty College, 84-71.
The Firestorm finished the Embassy Suites Classic 2-0 and remains undefeated at home 7-0.
Arizona Christian got off to a slow start in the first two minutes of the game, as Lancer' Tyler Payer recorded the first five points of the contest giving the Lancers a 5-0 edge. The Lancers would increase their lead to nine after a 3-pointer by Chris Richardson, but Dan Cornelius would respond with a three ball of his own and spark a Firestorm run. In fact, after the Cornelius three, ACU went on 16-7 run and took its first lead of the game after Talib Uqdah knocked down a deep 3-pointer at the 8:15 mark, 27-24. ACU would hold onto the lead the rest of the first half and take a 14-point margin over the Lancers going into the break, but Chris Richardson would hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to keep the Lancers down by 11, 49-38.
Uqdah was unstoppable in the first half going 6-for-12 from the floor and 5-for-8 from beyond the arc, finishing with 20 points at the break.
Both teams finished the first half shooting above 50 percent from the floor and from the 3-point line.
After the break, Arizona Christian picked up from where it left off going on an 18-7 run to take the largest lead of the game with a 21-point margin, 66-45. The rest of the second half both teams traded points, as the Firestorm never let the Lancers get within 10 points. ACU finished the night shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 46 percent from beyond the arc.
The Firestorm out-rebounded the Lancers 40-31 and caused the Lancers to turn the ball over 11 times.
ACU's Uqdah led all scorers on the night finishing with 25 points, while Brandon Newman recorded 11 and Jackson Helms and Cornelius both finished with 10.
The Lancers had four players in double figures, as they were led by Chris Richardson who finished with 18 points.
With the win, Arizona Christian improves its record to 13-1 overall, while the Lancers fall to 2-13 on the season.
"It feels good to end the calendar year with a win," said Talib Uqdah. "Our guys fought hard all night and played great on the defensive end. I am anxious to get back to work and continue to strive to reach our potential as a team. We haven't clicked on all cylinders as a unit yet and we are closing in on two weeks before our first conference game, so time is of the essence."
Arizona Christian will enjoy a week break before they host Northern New Mexico College on Jan. 9 at 7:30p.m. in the Fultz Memorial Gymnasium.