The Wildcats men’s basketball team dropped its first two games of conference play last week during a road trip to Louisiana, losing to New Orleans and Southeastern University. Now 0-2 in conference, the team is 6-10 overall but an impressive 4-0 on its home court in Moody Coliseum.
“The fact that we were in both games until the end really says a lot,” said head coach Joe Golding. “To go out and play your first two Southland games on the road is tough to do. We took care of the ball and when we played our style, we were the better team on the court.”
ACU took on the New Orleans Privateers Thursday, and despite keeping the contest competitive for the majority of the game, the men in purple were not able to catch up, taking the loss 87-81. Junior guard Harrison Hawkins led the way for the Wildcats with 19 points and five assists. Sophomore guard Parker Wentz added 16 points including four three-point makes.
New Orleans entered the game as one of the Southland’s worst shooting free throw teams. But its consistency at the line was the real difference maker in its win. The Privateers shot 32-45 from the charity strike, while the Wildcats shot 18-25 as a team.
The Wildcats then traveled to take on the Lions in a game that turned out to be a classic. Despite trailing 40-25 at halftime, ACU was able to hold SELU to just 30 percent shooting from the field and force overtime in Hammond, La. Both teams scored eight points in the first overtime which forced a second overtime. The Wildcats, exhausted and fatigued, could not keep up as they were outscored 13-5 in 2OT, and lost 85-77.
Junior guards LaDarrien Williams and Hawkins had their best game of the season against SELU. Williams finished with a game-high 30 points and nine rebounds. Hawkins had an impressive 29 points on 8-17 shooting with eight boards. Combined, the dynamic guards went 20-27 from the free throw line. Sophomore forward Austin Cooke registered a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Golding said Williams and Hawkins were efficient in taking their shots.
“They got into the paint, were great at the line and it really gives us a lift,” he said. “It’s a mindset of making sure you get to the paint, and once you do that, you’re usually effective in putting up points.”
The men’s squad will play in conference teams in all but three games for the remainder of their schedule. The Wildcats now prepare for the University of Central Arkansas, after Oral Roberts was forced to forfeit its game against ACU originally scheduled for Thursday. The game against UCA is the first of three straight home games for ‘Cats who will look to improve their home dominance and conference record.