After dropping the past two games on the road, the Wildcats returned home Saturday afternoon to face the Southeastern Louisiana in desperate need of a win. It would not turn out the way head coach Joe Golding and ACU would want, falling to the Lions 65-52 in Moody Coliseum. The Wildcats move to 9-14 and 3-7 in the Southland Conference. After starting conference-play 3-0, the Wildcats have dropped seven straight games, four of which have been at home.
The Wildcats couldn’t keep up with the Lions in the second half, being outscored 39-28 after halftime. Junior forward Austin Cooke converted a layup for ACU to make it 35-33 SELU with 13:39 left in the second half. The Lions would then go on a 15-4 run over the next seven minutes to move ahead 50-37 with 6:38 left in the game. ACU would trail by double digits for the remainder of the game, eventually ending with the Wildcats’ loss.
Senior guard Harrison Hawkins led the Wildcats with 18 points with 13 coming in the second half. He shot 7-15 from the field and an even 4-8 from the three point arc. Cooke put in 13 points on 5-11 shooting and had a team-high seven rebounds. Junior guard Parker Wentz continued to struggle from the field, going 2-11 and 2-8 from three for six points. Senior guard LaDarrien Williams, the third leading scorer for ACU, put in one point on a 1-2 trip to the free throw line. Williams went 0-5 for the game, the second time this season he failed to register a made shot from the field, last time coming against Boise State on Dec. 20.
As a team, ACU shot 35 percent from the field and was 9-26 from beyond the arc. The Wildcats attempted just four free throws, all in the first half, compared to 14 attempts by the Lions. SELU gained the edge on points off of turnovers (15) and second chance points (13).
Senior center DeVonte Upson of SELU put in a season-high 24 points on 12-14 shooting and added nine rebounds. Senior guard Cedric Jenkins added 14 points and two big three point makes down the stretch to keep the Wildcats at bay.
It has been the same song and dance for the men’s squad during this losing skid. Over the last seven losses, six of them have been have been by double digits. The Wildcats are also losing offensive output in the second halves. In the final 20 minutes, ACU is averaging 32 points, while opponents have averaged 41 points over the last seven games.
The Wildcats have faced the best the Southland Conference has to offer. ACU has played Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, Incarnate Word and McNeese State, all formidable challenges. What has hurt the Wildcats however are the dropped winnable games against Lamar, Houston Baptist and Southeastern Louisiana.
ACU will play Lamar (11-12, 5-6) Monday night on a neutral court in Garland.