Men’s basketball (3-4) battled and matched the New Hampshire Wildcats blow for blow in the first half and trailed by just four going into halftime. New Hampshire opened up the second half with a 17-5 run to take a commanding 63-47 lead six minutes into the half.
ACU would never get close after that, trailing by as much as 18 with over six minutes to play in the game. The Wildcats had an opportunity to cut it to single digits, but couldn’t capitalize, falling 86-75 on Thursday night.
“That’s a good team we played,” head coach Joe Golding said. “They won 19 games last season, they returned four starters from that squad, they’re a veteran ball club and I’d be surprised if they didn’t exceed their success from last year.”
Freshman Hayden Farquhar came out of the gates like a man on a mission. He scored ten of ACU’s first 15 points, hitting four shots to start the game, including a three. Farquhar finished with 17 points on 7-8 shooting off the bench.
Freshman Jaylen Franklin provided ACU with a big boost in the second half, doing most of his damage at the free throw line. He was 8-10 from the charity stripe in way to a season-high 22 points, four rebounds and three assists. Senior Parker Wentz and junior Jovan Crnic combined for 22 points on 5-10 three-point shooting. Freshman Jaren Lewis had a near double-double, with nine points and nine boards.
“We had a lot of guys contribute tonight and that’s something we look to, we don’t want just one guy carrying this team because that doesn’t translate into success,” Golding said. “Obviously Farquhar is very talented, he can shoot, put the ball on the floor and pass and really surprise you. I though Jaylen Franklin was relentless in getting the ball to the rim and getting to the foul line. He’s on pace to shoot 200 free throws this year which is remarkable as a freshman.”
“I thought we played a really solid first half, they hit some tougher shots in the first half, and then in the second half I feel like they got a lot of easier looks,” Golding said. “We thought we could get in the paint and drive inside, so we really looked at that in the first half and I think that was a big reason why we were in it.”
Farquhar tied the game in the early going on a steal and transition layup to make it 15-15. The Wildcats would go on a cold-streak, hitting just two of their next 11 shots, while trailing 36-28 with 4:25 to go in the first half after a dunk by sophomore guard Tanner Leissner. ACU outscored UNH 14-10 to make it close at halftime, 46-42, after both teams exchanged baskets at the rim in the final 30 seconds.
The big second half run would push New Hampshire out of reach. UNH led 73-55 halfway through the second half. After committing just four turnovers in the first half, ACU doubled that in the second which led to ten more shot attempts for UNH. A pair of back-to-back three-point buckets by Wentz made it 81-69 with over three minutes to play, but fouls and turnovers would crush the Wildcats’ hopes of a comeback, en route to their first home loss of the season.
The Wildcats got plenty of looks in the second half, but after shooting over 50 percent for most of the first half, ACU struggled to score against a quality New Hampshire squad.
Senior starting point guard Jalen Little left the game in the second half after suffering a knee injury. Although he may not fill up the box score on a nightly basis, no one does more for this ACU offense than Little.
“I didn’t see it, but he said he felt a twist,” Golding said. “He’s had trouble with that knee this season, going back to the Costa Rica trip, so we’ll have to see what the doctor says and go from there.”
The Wildcats travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to face the Cornhuskers on Saturday.