By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
Despite a career night by junior forward Tucker Pierson, the ACU men’s basketball team was unable to hold off the upstart Rams of Angelo State, dropping its first home game of the season, 85-76, in front of more than 2,000 fans at Moody Coliseum Tuesday.
Pierson recorded his seventh double-double effort this season, posting career-highs of 28 points and 16 rebounds for the Wildcats, who fell to 9-5 overall and 0-1 in LSC South play. ACU has lost two straight games after winning seven in a row earlier in the season.
First-year coach Klint Pleasant said the tough loss to ASU prepared the Wildcats for Thursday’s LSC Crossover game against all-America forward Danny Jones and the nationally-ranked Texans of Tarlton State, though results were unavailable at press time.
“We played hard [against ASU], but we didn’t play especially well,” said Pleasant, whose team hadn’t lost consecutive games since early December. “It did mean a lot to our guys to have so many people at the game. You could see us feeding off of the crowd.”
The Wildcats led Angelo State for most of the contest until Rams freshman guard Matt Hardin took over with less than five minutes to go in the game.
With time winding down, Hardin banked home a three-pointer just before the shot clock expired, giving Angelo State the lead for good with 4:08 remaining in the game. Hardin single-handedly put the game out of reach, scoring 10 of his 15 points in a three-minute span to seal the Rams’ victory.
Junior guard Rodney Lee made only two of eight shots from the floor against Angelo State, but both field goals were from behind the three-point arch. Lee leads the team and is second in the LSC in scoring. He is on pace for the highest single-season point total since Corey Stone averaged 21 points per game in 1994-95. Stone is the school’s all-time leading scorer.
Junior point guard Cliff Green, who scored 11 points and handed out five assists, said rebounding played a key part in the home loss to Angelo State.
“We gave them too many second-chance points,” said Green, who is leading the LSC with 6.1 assists per game. “With those offensive rebounds, we’re up 15 points.”
Green suffered an even greater loss off the floor this week when his grandmother died in Mississippi. He flew home last Friday to spend the weekend with his family.
ACU returns to LSC South Division play next week, taking on LSC rivals Eastern New Mexico and West Texas A&M at Moody Coliseum on Jan. 23 and 25, respectively. Both games will begin at 8 p.m.
Social club members are encouraged to attend Tuesday’s game against ENMU. The club with the most members in attendance will receive $200. The first 150 fans will receive a free t-shirt.