The men’s basketball team defeated Howard Payne 90-53 at home Tuesday evening and improved to its first 7-0 start since the 1998-99 season.
ACU started out slow as Howard Payne kept up with a 12-10 score eight minutes through the game and 22-18 at the 7:43 mark of the first half.
From that point on, however, the Wildcats went on a 23-7 run to closed the half capped off by a three-pointer from redshirt junior Jalone Friday with 1.5 seconds left.
In the second half, the men kept their lead in the 20-point range for most of the time until the 3:38 mark when they jumped ahead 80-49 for a 31-point lead. The team cruised its way to an eventual victory after.
Head Coach Joe Golding said it’s exciting to see his team work well and come up with a great start to the season.
“I think we’ve taken care of the basketball really well,” Golding said. “We’ve done a great job of moving our offense and defense around. It’s a fun group to coach, they know exactly what they need to do. They’re a very mature group.”
Nearly every player for the Wildcats reached double digits in minutes played as the starting five rested more during the game.
Junior forward Jaren Lewis said it was comforting to see the bench come out and put on a performance.
“Our bench is great, they’ve been great early on and it’s always nice to see them work,” Lewis said. “It gives us all a good chance to improve on things we need to work on.”
Freshman forward Joe Pleasant led his team in scoring with 15 points on the night. Junior guard Payten Ricks added 14 points, while Lewis and freshman forward Clay Gayman earned 13 each.
Lewis said the team has been hitting on all cylinders so far this season.
“We’ve just been staying disciplined and finding our roles,” Lewis said. “We’re playing hard with a lot of intensity early on and it’s been working well for us.”
ACU will now turn back around and head to California again to face Pepperdine University.
The Waves roster a talented guard in sophomore guard Colbey Ross who has averaged 20 points per game this season along with 6.2 assists. Pepperdine has also seen promising numbers from redshirt junior forward Kameron Edwards averaging 17.7 points per game and 7.3 rebounds.
Pepperdine meets the Wildcats with a 4-2 overall record so far this season.
Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. in Malibu (7 p.m. Central Time). Coverage of the game will air on 98.1 FM.