No. 10 Concordia hosted No. 7 Arizona Christian for their second top-10 matchup in a week on Thursday night, January 16, and opened GSAC play with a thrilling 82-72 win in front of an excited CU Arena on the Concordia campus.
Donnell Phifer led Concordia with 18 points, getting to the foul line 15 times, making 12. Montreal Harris scored 14, with six coming right out of the gate. Tommy Stangl was a perfect three-for-three from deep and four-for-four from the field off the bench for 11 points. Kiefer Douse had 12 and Justin Davis hit two big threes off the bench. Stephen Grosey grabbed 10 boards and Lucas Simpson snagged eight. Concordia won the toughness battle, getting to the line 10 more times and grabbing seven more rebounds. Each team shot 40%.
"It's always so tough against them and it was really good for us to beat an elite team," Concordia head coach Ken Ammann said. "To beat a team like that everyone has to play well and I thought everyone did an amazing job."
Concordia raced to an 11-0 advantage with seven-straight from Harris, including a dunk and three-point play. Arizona Christian immediately went to work chipping away and took a 16-15 lead. A jumper from Lucas Simpson at 9:04 put Concordia back ahead 20-19. At 7:10 Tommy Stangl dialed a corner three and Concordia led 24-21. Justin Davis drilled a contested three at 1:25 to put Concordia up 35-31, but Talib Uqdah responded with his own at the other end. Phifer went through contact to answer with a layup. Davis hit a long range three at the buzzer from Stephen Grosey for a 40-35 halftime lead.
Arizona Christian opened the second with a layup and Concordia responded, then the teams went quiet for two minutes. Uqdah broke the silence with a three to make it 42-40 Concordia. A freebie from Harris and one from Phifer made it 44-40. Concordia kept forcing turnovers and attacking the glass, and after one Simpson free throw they led by five. After two Arizona Christian free throws, Stangl took a charge in transition at 14:59 to reverse the ball. Harris and Lucas converted a nice high-low, but Arizona Christian tied the game at the other end with a three-point play. Phifer threw it ahead to Simpson, who hit Kiefer Douse for two in transition and Phifer followed with a three-point play for the 52-47 edge. Arizona Christian responded with a three and Concordia took a timeout. Stangl and DeLaun Frazier combined on back-to-back threes to put Concordia up 62-54 and cap an 11-0 run, and force an Arizona Christian timeout at 8:51.
Arizona Christian scored four straight, but Stangl came back with a three. Grosey stole the ball near midcourt at 5:49, hit Stangl on the run who floated it over the Arizona Christian defender in transition, making it 69-60. The squads traded foul shots and Concordia led 73-62 with four minutes left. Concordia took the air out of the ball down the stretch, a big offensive rebound by Harris burned more time, and Phifer controlled the pace. Concordia made enough foul shots and won 82-72.
The Eagles improved to 14-3 and 1-0 in the GSAC, while Arizona Christian fell to 14-2 and 0-1 in conference. Concordia will take a one day break and get back at it on Saturday night, January 18, at 7:30 pm against No. 25 Hope International in Fullerton, CA.