After a strong performance in his return from a suspension, redshirt junior center Jalone Friday found the spotlight once again in the Wildcats’ 78-69 win over Northwestern State Saturday evening when he passed 1,000 career points.
With a three-pointer coming at the 1:43 mark of the first half, Friday achieved the career milestone which also gave him 12 points and his team a 40-23 lead. He went on to finish with 17 points (5-9 from the field and 3-4 on three-pointers), seven rebounds and three blocks.
The Wildcats never trailed in the game and kept a double-digit lead for most of the first half. ACU went into halftime with a comfortable 44-28 lead.
In the second half, the men reached its highest lead of the game at the 16:47 mark with a layup from senior guard Jaylen Franklin to go up 53-31.
NSU didn’t quit, however, as the Demons crawled back within nine with 7:33 to go after a free throw from senior forward Ishmael Lane. ACU regained a double-digit lead though, and kept it until the end after a last-second layup by the Demons.
Head coach Joe Golding said his team felt comfortable with its lead the whole game.
“I thought we controlled the game the whole time,” Golding said. “We haven’t been in those situations this year. It’s honestly tough to hold a lead like that in college basketball, but I thought we controlled this game.”
Redshirt junior B.J. Maxwell was the scoring leader for the Wildcats with 19 points. He also came away with seven rebounds and five assists. Senior forward Jaren Lewis scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
ACU will next hit the road for preseason No. 1 Stephen F. Austin which has struggled to live up to being the favorite in the conference so far with a 2-3 Southland record.
Looking ahead to SFA and the rest of the Southland schedule, Golding said his team has to keep improving in order to be successful
“We have to get better, we can’t just stay right here,” Golding said. “I know we can get better, but how much better can we get? This a critical time of the year for any team. In the next two weeks, you can either get better or worse.”
Golding and the Wildcats will go to Nacogdoches Wednesday to face the Lumberjacks. Tipoff is at 6:30 and can be viewed on ESPN+.