Arizona Christian Defeats No. 15 Benedictine, 69-68
By Daniel Cross, Arizona Christian Sports Information Director
DENVER, Colo. - Arizona Christian University had four in double figures Saturday evening, as the Firestorm defeated the No. 15-ranked Ravens from Benedictine College (Kan.), 69-68.
The Ravens entered the game 10-3 and just came off defeating the No. 2 team, Oklahoma City University, 81-74.
The win over No. 15 makes Saturday's win, the highest ranked opponent the Firestorm have beaten in school history.
ACU improves to 5-9 overall, while the Ravens get handed their fourth loss of the season.
ACU's Prayer Branham was the leading scorer for the Firestorm with 20, while Sara Beth Hock finished with 13 and Shannon Harte and Tenisha Royston each had 10.
Both teams got off to a slow start in the first half, as the score was tied 4-4 after four minutes of play. The Ravens sparked an 8-2 run in the next two minutes, but ACU would respond with 12 straight points to take a six point edge over the Ravens at the 10:04 mark, 18-12. The No. 15 team would go up by five with two minutes left in the half, but Stephanie Brimhall would knock down a jumper and Branham would make a nice move in the paint to beat the buzzer.
ACU would trail the Ravens 35-34 going into the break.
Both teams exchanged points back and forth throughout the first half as the score was tied on four separate occasions and the lead changed hands twice.
ACU got off to a quick start after intermission knocking down its first two shots taking a three point edge over the Ravens, but the No. 15 team would respond and take back the lead at the 15:57 mark after Raven' Justice Payne hit a three, 42-38. The Firestorm would answer back and start to chip away at the deficit and take back the lead on the free throw line. In fact, after Branham knocked down two free throws at the 14:32 mark, ACU would hold onto the lead for the next 10 minutes until Payne would strike again from the charity stripe giving the Ravens a three point edge over the Firestorm, 60-57.
ACU wouldn't give up and continue to cut the lead after Brimhall made back to back baskets and Branham completed a pair on the free throw line to take back the lead with a minute on the clock, 67-66. Branham would finish the game going 8-for-9 from the stripe and knock down her last two free throws with :08 seconds on the clock.
The Firestorm finished the game shooting 83.3 percent from the free throw line (15-for-18), while the Ravens shot 66.7 percent (12-for-18).
The Ravens were led by Payne and Jackie Ziesel, who both finished with 14 points.
The Firestorm caused havoc on the No. 15 team, as the Ravens turned the ball over 23 times on the night.
ACU will enjoy a two week break before it heads over to Irvine, Calif., to start conference play against Concordia University on Jan. 16 at 5:30p.m.