By Brandon Tripp, Sports Writer
Three days after being eliminated from postseason play by Tarleton State, the displaced Wildcats took another loss, its sixth in a row, at the hands of the visiting Mustangs from Midwestern State, 88-66.
The game was technically a home game, but was played at McMurry University because of the Sing Song performances Saturday.
“I thought we played really well in the first half,” said head coach Jason Copeland said. ” But we have guys out with injuries, and that really hurt our depth, and it showed when we started fading in the second-half.”
The loss to Midwestern puts the Wildcats at 8-16 overall and 2-8 in conference play. The Mustangs, who entered the game in a three-way tie for first place in the LSC South, move to 19-6 overall and 8-2 in conference, keeping them in a tie with Texas A&M-Kingsville.
The Wildcats played a competitive first half, out scoring the Mustangs in bench points three to one and shooting 51 percent from the floor. ACU was outscored in the paint 22-12 and on the fast-break 12-4. Midwestern also shot an astonishing 59 percent from the floor, giving them a 40-37 lead heading into the break.
The Wildcats were seemingly in good shape, but the second-half would be their undoing. ACU had trouble picking up where it left off and shot just 21 percent from the floor and mustering just 29 points the entire second half. Midwestern State came out of the half hot, sprinting out to a 17-point lead just five minutes into the half, leading 58-41. The Mustangs continued their torrid shooting pace in the second-half, hitting 55 percent and taking it to the Wildcats with 20 fast-break points in the half.
“They really came out and pushed the ball in the second half, and it really wore us down,” Copeland said.
The Wildcats’ Dante Adams led the team in scoring with 22 points, shooting 40 percent percent from three-point land. Adams was the only Wildcat to hit more than 50 percent of his shots in the game, going 6-13 from the field. LSC pre-season favorite for South Player of the Year, Dejan Sencanski, struggled from the floor for the second-straight game, hitting just 4-14 of his shots and managing just nine points for the game, well below his season average of 18.6. Ean Wagner, who replaced the injured Riley Lambert, was the only other Wildcat in double figures, tacking on 12 points of his own.
Nolan Richardson blazed the way for the Mustangs rout of the Wildcats, hanging a game-high 26 points on ACU. Richardson has scored at least 20 points both times he has faced the Wildcats, posting 20 in their meeting on Jan. 31.
The Wildcats will be back in action when they travel to Portales, N.M., on Wednesday to take on the Greyhounds from Eastern New Mexico. ACU took the first meeting in a 68-58 win in Moody Coliseum.
The Greyhounds are coming into the game 4-22 on the season and winless in conference play at 0-11.
“I just want to see the guys get out, play hard, and we’ll try to come away with two wins to finish [the season] out,” Copeland said.