The ACU men’s basketball team began their regular season in exciting fashion last Friday night. The Wildcats played the University of Texas-Permian Basin at Moody Coliseum, pulling off a one-point 80-79 win, and giving the home crowd a game they will not soon forget.
The game was close from the beginning, and the Wildcats trailed by ten, at most, and led by no more than six the entire game.Â Their six-point lead came with 3:51 left in the game when redshirt freshman, Ben Warton, slipped in an easy lay up, making the score 73-67. The Wildcats then turned the game into a defensive struggle.
ACU was up 80-79 and had the ball with 12 seconds left in the game, but a quick turnover gave Texas-Permian Basin the ball with eight seconds still on the clock. Ben Warton and Zach Williams, determined to win the game, did not let the unfortunate turnover faze them and caused Texas-Permian Basin to have a turnover of their own as time expired, allowing ACU to hold on to their one-point lead, 80-79.
Zach Williams led all scorers in the game with 21 points. It was his first regular season game to play with the Wildcats as he transferred from Stephen F. Austin last year.
When asked about Williams’ performance, Coach Copeland said, “Zach played great tonight. He set the tone for us with easy baskets at the beginning of the game and continued to play well throughout the night.”
The Wildcats’ bench players contributed heavily to the Friday night win. Ben Warton especially stood out, as he was one rebound shy of a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds. Junior transfer Alex Richman also had a major contribution off the bench with a huge three-pointer in the final minutes of the game.
“We played our best when our backs were up against the wall,” Coach Copeland explained. “I didn’t feel like we played as well as we are capable of playing, but our bench came through when we needed them; and we came out with a win in a tough game, which seems like it has boosted everyone’s confidence.”
The Wildcats are now 1-0 on the season and are working hard to prepare for their next game.
“The win on Friday has gotten everyone fired up. The work rate of the team this week at practice has been incredible. Everyone wants to keep the wins coming,” freshman Marcus Norman said.
The Wildcats travel to Dallas this week to play Dallas Baptist University. With the confidence they gained last Friday night, they hope to repeat their success and start regular season away games the same way they started their home ones.