The men’s basketball team played well but was ultimately outmatched and unable to defeat Duquesne in its season opener, falling 94-75 on Saturday afternoon. Duquesne started with a 12-0 run and led the majority of the game by double digits while ACU never got close in its first Div. I game in Pittsburgh, Penn.
“We’ve got so many new guys and some young guys, and it showed,” Joe Golding, head coach of the men’s basketball team, said. “We had open looks in the opening minutes of the game, but we just couldn’t knock them down. If we had made a few of those and gotten ourselves calmed down, we might have been able to keep it closer.”
ACU’s first points did not come until a converted jump shot from junior guard Julian Edmonson at the 15:34 mark. The lack in offense led to a game high 27-point lead by Duquesne, as the Wildcats shot 24 percent from the field in the first half, including 1-9 from beyond the three-point line.
Duquesne found no trouble in scoring as it shot 55 percent from the floor and was 3-7 from the three. It also capitalized on fouls, going 19-24 from the charity strike. The Wildcats trailed 54-29 at halftime, led by Edmonson who had 10 points at the break.
“I felt like as our first time going out there on that type of stage, we played nervous,” sophomore guard Parker Wentz said. “We calmed down a lot more in the second half and played better as a team. But we can’t give up that many points and rebounds and expect to be successful.”
The Wildcats found the bottom of the basket easier in the second half as it shot 46 percent and was 12-14 from the free throw line. It was never able to overcome the original 12-point deficit, despite outscoring the Dukes 46-40 in the second half.
Junior guard Harrison Hawkins led the Wildcats with 26 points, five rebounds and was 11-12 from the free throw line. Edmonson also finished with 15 points in 18 minutes off the bench, while sophomore forward Austin Cooke added 13 points and led the team with nine rebounds.
Sophomore guard Derrick Colter, who had 23 points on 8-12 shooting and was also 5-5 from the free throw line, led Duquesne. Junior guard Tra’Vaughn White added 20 points on 7-11 shooting, and senior forward Ovie Soko recorded a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
“We played hard and just kept fighting,” Hawkins said. “That’s really all you can do. We have some stuff to fix, but we’ll get better.”
ACU also took on St. Bonaventure Monday night in Olean, N.Y. The Wildcats were never close as they fell, 75-47 to move to 0-2 on the young campaign. Junior guard LaDarrien Williams led the way with 18 points on 7-11 shooting, including 2-5 from downtown. As a team, the Wildcats shot just 35 percent from the field and were 3-10 from the three point line. The Bonnies finished with 45 percent shooting and were led by senior guard Matthew Wright who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Jordan Gathers finished with a well-balanced game of 14 points, five assists and four boards for the Bonnies.
The Wildcats will travel to the University of Maryland for their game today against the Terrapins at 6 p.m. Abilene time. Maryland is 1-1 so far this season, with their lone loss coming against No. 18 ranked University of Connecticut.