The Wildcats struggled to close the game against Dallas Baptist on Monday night, which ended in a narrow loss, 85-82. The loss is the first of the season and drops ACU’s record to 3-1.
ACU’s four-point lead evaporated in the final three minutes of the game, after turnovers and bad possessions on offense allowed the Patriots to outscore them 7-2.
“We just made the little mistakes down the stretch,” said guard Dustin Heiman, who scored 15 points and picked up a team-high six rebounds in the game.
The Wildcats didn’t let DBU walk away with the victory, however, tying 12 times and exchanging the lead seven times. ACU forward Vladimir Garvanic led all scorers with 19 points, in addition to six rebounds and three steals.
ACU’s real chance lay in several missed free throws that loosened the Patriots’ grip on victory. Unfortunately, it didn’t loosen it enough. After taking the lead, 83-82, the Patriots missed a free throw but got the rebound, forcing the Wildcats to foul again. DBU split another pair of free throws, and the Wildcats trailed 84-82 with 17 seconds left. After a failed three-point attempt by ACU and another foul on the Patriots, Preston Davis gave it one last shot — a 45-foot shot that bounced off the front rim.
“We got in the mode of trying to outscore them,” said Head Coach Jason Copeland. “We were too focused on the offense instead of the defense. We need to focus more on the defense and getting stops on our end of the floor.”
Unlike Monday’s game, the other games were not so close. The Wildcats averaged more than 101 points per game against their first three opponents.
After a blowout opening win against Baptist Bible, 116-74, ACU defeated Dallas Christian 85-59. Giordan Cole scored 19 points and snagged 13 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. ACU overwhelmed the Crusaders on defense, forcing 30 turnovers.
The Wildcats continued with a 104-49 win over the Hillsdale College Saints. Eddie Thompson led all scorers with 15 points; he also had five assists for the game.
A pair of conference crossover games is the next step for ACU, as they take on Cameron University on Thursday and Southwest Oklahoma State on Saturday.
“We are going take this loss and let it dig inside of us, so that we know how it feels. Now we can learn from it,” Heiman said. “We are going to take these next two games and go 2-0.”