KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Box score) No. 16-seeded Culver-Stockton (Mo.) beat Arizona Christian 101-83 in the first round of the 2014 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship. The Wildcats will next take on No. 1-seeded Cal State San Marcos on Friday, March 21 at 10:45 a.m.
The Wildcats had six players score in double-figures led by James Johnson’s 21 points, who also was 8 of 14 from the field. Karl Moore also had 17 points and eight rebounds. Talib Uqdah led the Firestorm with 20 points, while Brandon Newman contributed 16 points.
Culver-Stockton (24-7) used a fast-paced offense to build a series of runs against the Firestorm. The Wildcats were down 19-16 with 12 minutes left in the first half before going on a 28-16 run to end the half. The Wildcats led 44-35 at halftime. They then opened the second half on a 30-14 run leading 71-47 with 12:25 left in the game.
“They’re a team that scores very, very quickly,” Arizona Christian head coach Jeff Rutter said. “We’ve been among the best defensive teams in the country all year, and we needed a good effort tonight and it just didn’t happen.”
Culver-Stockton guard C.J. Adams said the team was ready to play today and didn’t want to fall into a dry spell.
“We showed up today,” Adams said. “We didn’t want to fall into a lull and let (Arizona Christian) get confidence. I thought we did a pretty good job of jumping on them and keeping them down.”
Keeping them down they did. The Firestorm’s largest lead of the game was three points when they led 17-14 early in the first half. Culver-Stockton head coach Jack Schrader said they wanted to come out and get into a rhythm.
“I felt that we didn’t do that early in the game,” Schrader said. “Once our shots started falling, we seemed to find that rhythm and our play improved.”
The Wildcats shot an astounding 10 of 24 from beyond the arc for 41.7 percent, and Arizona Christian was only 7 of 27. The Firestorm were held in check only shooting 38.7 percent and were outscored in the second half 57-48.
Arizona Christian committed 14 turnovers, while the Wildcats had 11. Culver-Stockton also had 10 steals for the game led by Adams’ four.
“We just got beat by a better team today,” Rutter said. “We wanted to control the tempo, protect the paint and limit their transition and we didn’t do that on a consistent level.”
Arizona Christian finishes its season with a record of 23-8.
Culver-Stockton – The Wildcats improved to 6-6 all-time after winning a first round game for the second-consecutive year … Culver-Stockton improved to 10-0 this season when scoring at least 100 points … James Johnson became the Wildcats’ single-season record holder for three-point field goals made with 196 … Culver-Stockton is averaging 92.5 points in its last four games at the national championships.
Arizona Christian – The Firestorm lost in the first round for the second-straight year, their first two appearances in the national championships … ACU had not allowed more than 82 points to an opponent this season and the 101 points was the second-most the team had allowed since joining NAIA Division I in 2012-13 … The Firestorm came into the game ranked #8 in NAIA Division I in rebound margin (+7.4), but was outrebounded, 44-41.