By Blake Penfield, Sports Writer
The men’s basketball team experienced college basketball’s ups and downs this past week with a comeback victory over Howard Payne University Nov. 21 and a loss to St. Edwards University Monday, putting the team at 3-1 on the season.
Both games were won and lost by free throws.
During the Nov. 21 game in Moody Coliseum, the Wildcats were ahead by nine points after a relatively uneventful first half. But HPU fought back hard in the second half of the game and managed to flip the lead nine points in their favor 13 minutes into the second half.
The Wildcats roared back with a surging 13-4 run that tied the score at 72-72.
The game then became a tug-of-war match between the two teams with the lead going back and forth until a huge three-pointer by forward Cameron Holson brought the intense stalemate to a crescendo. With ACU leading 79-78, Holson hammered another nail into HPU’s coffin by drawing the foul after snagging an offensive rebound and hitting a decisive free throw.
HPU once again tied the score with a three-pointer of its own.
But the Wildcats were relentless. In a flurry of steals and fouls, ACU was able to win the game by hitting six out of eight free throws in the final eight seconds of the game. The final score was 87-81.
Holson set his career scoring record with 25 points.
“He really played well. He made some great plays down the stretch and hit one three that put us up. He just played really well,” said head coach Jason Copeland.
Monday’s game in Austin did not turn out quite as well for the Wildcats. While ACU had a higher shooting percentage in the first period than their opponents, they still finished the half behind St. Edwards, 35-29.
This lead steadily grew throughout the second half until the Wildcats finally began to trim it down with two minutes left to play and the score at 58-47.
ACU forward Philip Brooks hit two of only six free throws ACU attempted. Holson followed suit with a lay-up that shrunk St. Edwards’ lead to seven.
However, St. Edwards’ free throws proved to be solid, sinking three in a row to bring the lead back up with under a minute left.
After an off-the-bench three-pointer by guard Cortnie Ross with 36 seconds left, St. Edwards continued to knock down free throw after free throw.
After all was said and done, the Wildcats shot only 40 percent in the second half and missed a total of 10 free throws.
Brooks led the Wildcats with 15 points. Copeland was able to sum up ACU’s loss succinctly.
“They hit their free throws. We didn’t,” he said.