The Wildcats were over matched Wednesday night as the team fell to Tulsa on the road, 65-39. It was the first time since 1982 that the team was held to under 40 points for a game.
“Tulsa is an NCAA tournament team, so it was a great challenge for us,” said Harrison Hawkins, senior guard. “Hopefully, we’ll look back at this game and learn from it, and it will help us down the road.”
After scoring 101 points in the season opener, ACU was held to a dismal 27 percent shooting on the night against the Golden Hurricanes and were just 5-22 from beyond the arc.
Junior forward Austin Cooke scored 12 points and junior guard Parker Wentz’s 16-game streak of double-digit scoring came to an end as he finished with seven points on 3-10 shooting. It was only the third time in the last 23 games that Wentz was held to under 10 points.
“We just couldn’t make shots, even when they were wide open looks,” Hawkins said. “We didn’t execute to the ability that we know how.”
The Wildcats kept things competitive early on, trailing only by five, 20-15, with six minutes left in the first half. The Golden Hurricanes would then go on a 13-4 run to end the half, leading 33-19.
Shooting in the second half would prove to be near impossible for ACU. Hawkins started off the second half with a three point bucket for three of his six points, but the Wildcats wouldn’t make another shot until seven minutes later with 13 minutes left in the game.
With just more than five minutes left, a Tulsa layup pushed the score to 61-33 dooming all hope for an ACU comeback. The Wildcats struggled on the glass as Tulsa outrebounded ACU 43-29, and committed twice as many fouls as Tulsa, fouling 22 times compared to 11 by the Golden Hurricanes.
ACU struggled to get to the free throw line going just 4-7 and not attempting a single free throw until the second half. Tulsa attempted 25 free throws for the game, converting just 14.
Junior Duran Porter got the start over sophomore Riley Payne, who was scratched from the lineup after injuring his ankle in shoot around Thursday.
The Wildcats will now prepare for what is highly considered one of the most notable home games in school history. Duquesne University, who ACU lost to last season, 94-75, will travel to Abilene for the game Saturday afternoon.
Head coach Joe Golding emphasized the need for a major test in Tulsa before taking on Duquesne at home and declined when Tulsa offered to reschedule the game with ACU.
The Wildcats will play Duquesne at 4 p.m. Saturday.