Sophomore forward Joe Pleasant led ACU with 19 points in route to a 72-58 victory over the Incarnate Word Cardinals Saturday night.
“Coach [Golding] has always been pushing me to not be average,” Pleasant said. “The past week, I had been a little slow, so I just had to stay aggressive and confident.”
The Wildcats (12-9, 7-3 SLC) grabbed their 12th win on the season after finishing a three-game road trip Wednesday, falling to Stephen F. Austin (19-3, 10-1 SLC).
The Cardinals (5-16, 2-8 SLC) entered the 2019-20 season with the youngest team in the Southland conference, totaling seven freshman. Head Coach Joe Golding said that was a big concern for him going into the game.
“I was worried to death,” Golding said. “I think they’re a good basketball team, they just haven’t been able to win. Similar to tonight, teams get up big on them early and they continue to fight back.”
After the Wildcats jumped out to a 23-7 lead midway through the first half, the Cardinals inched their way back. UIW made it a 30-23 game before trailing by 11 at the halftime break.
Freshman forward Vincent Miszkiewicz was perfect from the court for UIW. He finished 4-4 shooting with 11 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
As a team, The Cardinals shot 47.6% (20-42) compared to ACU’s 45.1% (23-51). The big difference in the game was how the Wildcats delivered off of forced turnovers. ACU scored 22 points off turnovers, while UIW had just seven.
Senior guard Payten Ricks was another key factor in the win Saturday. Ricks scored 18 points on 6-10 shooting and five 3-pointers.
Looking ahead, ACU hits the road with a matchup against Northwestern State (8-12, 5-6 SLC) Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Meanwhile, UIW heads back to San Antonio with Sam Houston State (15-7, 8-3 SLC) waiting Wednesday at 7 p.m.