PHOENIX, Ariz. --- For the 15th time this season, Arizona Christian University's Talib Uqdah led all scorers for the Firestorm, as he finished with a season high 35 points in an 89-77 victory over the No. 18-ranked Biola University Eagles.
With the win, the Firestorm improve to 17-5 on the season and 3-4 in GSAC play. Meanwhile, the Eagles fall to 14-9 overall and 4-3 in conference.
"This was a great team win against a very good team," said head coach Jeff Rutter. "Talib was fantastic, but we had many guys step up and make big plays on both ends of the court. Mason, Brandon, and Jordan all made plays to answer several Biola runs."
Uqdah was untouchable in the first half, going 6-for-9 from the 3-point line with 20 points.
"I feel like as a team we made a huge step in the right direction tonight," said senior guard Talib Uqdah. "We have talked in the past about doing the little things like setting and using screens properly, and boxing out on defense. Tonight we were able to execute those little details better than we had all year."
Both teams got off to a slow start in the opening minutes, as the score was tied at 9-9 at the 12:58 mark. After the 9-9 score, the Firestorm finished the first half trading baskets back and forth with the No. 18 team to record a total of seven ties.
ACU's Mason Jones played some excellent minutes in the first half, going 3-for-6 from the field and 1-for-2 from the 3-point line. Jones finished the half with seven points, one assist, and one steal.
ACU shot a blistering 50 percent from beyond the arc and 48 percent from the field.
ACU went into the break with a 5-point lead, 40-35, while recording nine points in the paint and seeing the lead change over 16 times.
After the break, BU would cut the deficit to one after a deep ball from Pierre Zook, but the Firestorm responded with a Uqdah three to put ACU up by 4, 46-42.
ACU increased its lead to eight after Jones hit back-to-back threes and Jordan Block made a nice move in the paint.
The rest of the second half the Firestorm kept the Eagles at arm's length with a comfortable double digit lead. The lead never changed hands nor was the score ever tied in the second half.
"It didn't seem that we were able to stop them in the first half," said Rutter. "Our guys really executed the adjustments in the second half and we were able to create some distance."
Uqdah finished the night shooting 7-for-12 from the 3-point line and a perfect 14-for-14 from the charity stripe. Jones was the second highest scorer for the Firestorm with 13 points, going 5-for-8 from the field and 3-for-4 from the 3-point line.
Brandon Newman also recorded double digit points with 10 and brought down four rebounds, while Jason Timpf recorded a career high three blocks.
"We are definitely growing and improving," mentioned Rutter. "We have suffered some tough losses lately but we have made some positive steps in the past few days. I'm enjoying watching this group come together. We need to continue to compete for each possession and focus on doing things for each other on both ends of the court. We will need another team effort on Saturday against a really good Masters team that beat us last time."
ACU finished the game shooting 54 percent from the field and 52 percent from beyond the arc.
"We had excellent results on both ends of the court tonight," said Uqdah. "Now our focus will shift to the Master's College, as we look to prepare for the game."
ACU will stay at home this week when it hosts The Master's College on Feb. 8 at 4 p.m. (Arizona Time) The last time the two teams met, the Master's College sneaked by with a double overtime victory.