Johnson & Wales finished the 2011 Wildcat Classic with an Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) contest against the Arizona Christian University Firestorm on Sunday afternoon. The Firestorm (0-1, 0-0) opened the scoring early with a layup by Derek James but JWU's (1-2,0-0) Corey Puckett cleared the advantage with a 3-pt jump shot 30 seconds later.
Jake Campbell increased the Wildcats lead with back to back buckets and a free throw off a foul by the Firestorm's James. Joshua Cole put ACU back on top with his own 3 point jumper but Geoffrey Todd sunk a pair of free throws to even the game at 9. The two sides traded baskets for much of the first half before the Firestorm started finding some momentum while the Wildcats struggled with consistency. Arizona Christian took a 30-23 advantage into the break.
Adjusting his starting line up in the second half, Wildcats coach Jeff Culver look to take a different approach for the remainder of the game. His changes took hold right out of the gate with Jazz Williams bringing Johnson & Wales to withing three in the first few minutes. Williams' free throws at the 14 minute marked tied the contest at 34 but Daniel Cornelius sunk another shot from beyond the arc to put the Firestorm back in the lead where they would stay for the most of the remaining contest. Arizona Christian kept building upon their lead with the stalled Wildcats looking for someone to put them back on track.
At just under the one minute mark, the Firestorm found themselves up 65-53, but the Wildcats would start a rally with Chris O'Neal and Kahler Grandbouche scoring six points in a matter of 20 seconds by forcing a fast tempo game. The Firestorm had a hard time getting the ball inbounds twice, turning over the ball and allowing the Wildcats to bring the game to 66-67. John Irvine brought ACU up 69-66 but O'Neal's driving layup brought JWU within one. Jake Campbell tied the contest at 69 with the back half of a pair of free throws. A.J. Koch sunk his first free throw from a Williams foul but missed the second shot to secure his own rebound and hold for the final 1.4 seconds to give Arizona Christian the 70-68 win.
Williams had a game high 16 points for Johnson & Wales and Grandbouche had a game high 8 rebounds. Irvine had 14 points for ACU and both Koch and Jordan Augustine had 6 rebounds.
Johnson & Wale (1-3, 0-1) will travel to Kansas next weekend to take on Southwestern College and Bethany College.