The Wildcats weren’t able to rebound off their loss to Stephen F. Austin, as the team dropped their second conference game of the year Tuesday night. The 63-56 loss at the hands of the McNeese State Cowboys puts ACU at a 3-2 conference record and 9-9 overall.
Offensive woes plagued the visiting Wildcats as the team shot 32 percent from the field and went a sub-par 15-24 from the free throw line.
“I thought we started to settle for a tone of shots and not get good looks,” head coach Joe Golding said. “We could never get into any kind of rhythm and I feel like we missed a good opportunity in this one.”
ACU’s three top scorers, seniors Harrison Hawkins (12), LaDarrien Williams (11) and junior Parker Wentz (5), combined for 28 points on a total of 7-28 shooting and 4-13 from beyond the arc. Wentz, at 5’9″, led the team with a career high 10 rebounds.
Fouls and missed opportunities are what did the Wildcats in against the Cowboys. As a team, ACU was 7-20 from three, while rebounding continued to be a problem for the Wildcats, as the men in purple lost the battle on the glass 46-39.
Both teams got out to dismal shooting percentages, as they combined for 15 points halfway through the first half, McNeese State leading, 9-6. ACU took its only lead of the game on a three point shot by Williams to put the Wildcats up 14-13. The Cowboys would respond with a layup on the next possession to take the lead and never look back. At halftime, McNeese owned a 27-19 lead, with neither team scoring in the final three minutes.
“In the first half I thought we did a good job of attacking and staying aggressive, even though the shots weren’t falling,” Golding said. “But we got away from that in the second, started playing a lot of one on one basketball and even though they were giving us that, we can’t fall into that style of play. That’s not what we’re about.”
McNeese State owned its largest lead of the game at 14 with 11:02 left in the game, leading 49-35. The Wildcats would tally one final surge and cut the deficit to just four after a pair of Hawkins free throws that made it 53-49 with 3:07 left. McNeese State would pull away after fouls and turnovers sealed the ACU loss in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The Cowboys had multiple chances to put the game away, but were not able to make free throws with any form of consistency. For the game, McNeese State shot 16-35 and during one stretch, missed nine free throws out of 11 attempts. The team’s three point shooting was no better, finishing 2-20 from deep. The Cowboys were led by senior forward Desharick Guidry. The Southland Conference’s leading rebounder and fourth leading scorer finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds.
“He’s a monster underneath and we asked Austin Cooke to try to control him and he did his best, but he fouled out,” Golding said. “We battled with foul trouble all game, Austin fouled out, Harrison and Michael (Grant) each had four, Jalen (Little) was in trouble again; it’s tough when you don’t have guys out there in their normal rhythm.”
The Wildcats will host Incarnate Word (9-5, 1-3) Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. in Moody Coliseum to try to snap their loosing skid.