The Wildcats grabbed their 20th victory on the season with an overtime thriller against Incarnate Word Saturday.
“First of all, we have to give Incarnate Word credit,” head coach Joe Golding said. “I thought they played really hard. We just have to continue to find a way to win and keep fighting.”
With the victory, the Wildcats clinched the 2-seed and a double-bye in the Southland Conference Tournament.
In the first half, the Wildcats struggled to score offensively. They finished with a season-low, 22 points at halftime. Later, ACU came out attacking the basket in the second half.
“We struggled to score in the first half,” Golding said. “In the second half, I feel like we did a much better job of getting the ball inside. There’s going to be nights when you struggle to score but still have to find a way to win.”
Sophomore forward Clay Gayman led the Wildcats with 16 points on 5-8 shooting. He also made a presence inside the paint with seven rebounds.
After the Wildcats took a 61-59 advantage, freshman guard Drew Lutz for the Cardinals drained a two-point jumper with 29 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Early in the overtime segment, UIW jumped out to a five-point advantage with 3:23 remaining. However, the Wildcats responded to tie the game.
“We kept fighting and found a way to get some stops,” Golding said. “I thought Ricks’ free throws were big.”
Senior guard Payton Ricks was fouled while shooting a 3-point jumper. Ricks ensued to drain three free throws to even the score at 68 apiece.
After another defensive stop, Ricks found junior guard Reggie Miller open for the game-winning 3-pointer with 38 seconds left.
“It was a real big shot for us,” Miller said. “It won us the game, and we came out and got a stop on defense.”
Miller finished the evening with nine points and five assists for the Wildcats.
“We were just staying the course,” Miller said. “The offense was running, but the shots just weren’t falling. In the second half, that all changed.”
Looking ahead, ACU doesn’t play again until Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Katy. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+
“We got to figure out our week and keep our team in the right direction,” Golding said. “We got to continue to get better and be ready for the tip Friday night.”