Junior Jovan Crnic hit a 25-foot three-pointer to tie the game at 76 with two seconds left in regulation to force overtime against Colorado State Tuesday night. Senior Austin Cooke hit a three of his own with nine seconds left in overtime to force double overtime and keep the Wildcats alive in Fort Collins.
The Wildcats would be outscored 18-10 in double overtime, as the final would result in a 108-100 loss for ACU.
The team got contributions from all up and down the lineup. Senior Parker Wentz led the Wildcats with 21 points on 5-9 three-point shooting in 45 minutes of action. Cooke came away with 17 points and a team-high six rebounds. Crnic added 16 points, with nine coming in the second half.
The Wildcats had one of their best shooting nights in recent memory. They finished at 47 percent from the field, 14-30 from beyond the arc and an astounding 20-24 team effort from the free throw line. The last time ACU scored triple digits was in their season opener last year against Hillsdale Baptist.
A huge takeaway for ACU is that this performance comes against a top notch program. The Rams won 27 games last year and after Tuesday night, are 4-0 on the season and have received votes in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll.
After a three-point make by Wentz, ACU and Colorado State were tied at 36 early in the second half. The Wildcats would take the lead, thanks to a 17-6 run to make it 53-47 with over 12 minutes to go in the game.
Things would remain close throughout most of the second half. Crnic hit a free throw to tie things up at 69 with over three minutes to play. Free throws on both sides would make it 76-73 with 24 seconds left in regualtion. Crnic would sink the long three as the clock expired to force extra time.
Free throws by Wentz and freshman Jaylen Franklin made it 83-79 with 3:37 left in the first overtime. After being tied, senior Jaylen Little hit a floater from his hip to give ACU the lead at 87-85 with over a minute to go.
A Rams layup and three freethrows made it a five-point turnaround and gave Colorado State a three point lead. With seconds to go, Cooke hit the three to force another overtime session, 90-90, and keep ACU alive in the thriller.
Fatigue and foul trouble would eventually hinder the Wildcats in the second overtime period. The Rams opened up with an 11-5 run to make it 101-95 with 2:08 left after a morale killing corner three pointer by Colorado State.
Little and Franklin would add layups to keep things interesting, but late fouls and made free throws ensured the Rams victory in a game that had all the makings to be a classic.
Little, a native of Colorado Springs, had a double-double in his homecoming. He finished with 12 points and 10 assists, along with going a perfect 3-3 from the field (2-2 3FG) and 4-4 from the charity stripe. Senior bigman Duran Porter added 12 points on 6-7 shooting and had three blocked shots.
Franklin continues to impress, as the freshman put in 13 points with most of it coming from the free throw line (7-8). All in all, six Wildcats finished in double digits, same as the Rams.
The Wildcats lost the battle inside, being outrebounded, 43-33, and lacking in points in the pain, 42-26. ACU’s three point shooting and excellence at the free throw line is what ultimately kept them in it.
The loss moves ACU to 2-2 on the young season. The Wildcats will travel back to Texas for games against Florida A&M and Oakland in Corpus Christi on Friday and Saturday.