The men’s basketball team closed its regular season on Saturday with a much needed 69-59 win over Incarnate Word, completing the series sweep and snapping a four-game losing streak.
At the time of the game the Wildcats needed a win to keep their conference tournament hopes alive and they did their part.
Despite trailing 37-33 at the break, ACU started the second half on a 13-7 run to take 46-44 lead on driving layup from junior Jaylen Franklin. The Wildcats would not trail again as they eventually built a 61-50 lead with just under five minutes to go and held on for the victory.
Junior Jalone Friday was crucial in the win pouring in 17 points and hauling down 11 rebounds. It was his third double-double of the season and the sixth of his career.
Three other Wildcats scored in double figures, including grad-transfer Tevin Foster with 17, Franklin with 12 and junior Jaren Lewis with 10 points.
Unfortunately for ACU the winning celebration was short-lived, because just 15 minutes after the game’s end, McNeese State defeated Lamar 69-60 to knock the Wildcats out of Southland Conference Tournament contention.
The Cowboys would also have their tournament hopes dashed later that night when Texas A&M-Corpus Christi defeated Houston Baptist to grab the eighth and final spot.
With the win ACU finishes 16-15 overall and 8-10 in conference play. The winning season is the program’s first since the 2007-2008 campaign when the men made it to the Div. 2 quarterfinals.
“It feels good securing a winning season, but at the same time we know we should’ve done better,” Lewis said. “We put ourselves in a very tough situation, and unfortunately we hit a really rough stretch, but it was a good feeling getting a win to close out the conference season.”
Lewis, Franklin and Friday also each finished the season with all-conference recognition. Lewis and Friday were named All-Southland Honorable Mentions, while Franklin was earned a spot on the All-Defensive Team.
In other news, the Wildcats’ season may not be over just yet. ACU could still get a bid to the CBI or CIT tournaments, which will be announced this weekend.