The Wildcats clinched their second-consecutive Southland Conference Tournament title with a 79-45 blowout win against Nicholls to clinch an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” said head coach Joe Golding. “I think we came down here for 80 minutes and guarded well. This group has been special from the start, and this group has made it as fun as any year.”
The Wildcats never trailed in both tournament games capping off conference play in dominant fashion. ACU (23-4, 13-2 SLC) shot 45% from the field and drained 11 triples to overwhelm the Colonels.
Golding said despite the impressive win on the national stage, he’s not concerned about what seed they receive in the NCAA Tournament.
“These guys were a good team from the start to the finish,” Golding said. “We can’t control anything, and there’s been a lot of adversity for us this year. We’ll take whatever seed we get, but the good thing is we’re getting on that plane tomorrow and getting the opportunity to play.”
The Wildcats also dominated the rebound game, 53-34, which Nicholls head coach Austin Claunch thought was an important factor in the game.
“Rebounding was a huge issue,” said Claunch. “It’s not that they’re necessarily more physical, but they were disciplined. Their physicality and offensive rebounding was a huge issue. That was one of the best teams we’ve played all year.”
Junior guard Damien Daniels led the charge early on offense finishing with 13 points on an efficient 6-for-7 shooting.
“Damien did some good things tonight,” junior forward Joe Pleasant said. “He can make plays; he can hit shots. He was just out there doing what he was capable of.”
Pleasant also finished with 13 points and totaled eight rebounds in the victory. In total, 10 Wildcats scored and four were in double figures.
Senior guard Reggie Miller finished with a double-double for 11 points and 10 rebounds. He said the team faced many trails throughout the year to find themselves where they are now.
“Throughout the season we faced a lot of adversity, but we stuck together as a team,” Miller said. “Throughout it all, I thought we stuck together as a team. I personally thought it was our best win of the season tonight.”
The Wildcats will play in Indianapolis Friday or Saturday in the NCAA Tournament. Their opponent will be revealed on Selection Sunday at 5 p.m.
The victory in Katy marks the final conference game in the Southland for ACU before it transitions to the WAC this summer.
“I just want to thank the Southland Conference,” Golding said. “They gave us the opportunity to go Division I basketball, and ACU was a just a little Division II school. We will play hard for the Southland Conference, and we are forever in debt to the conference.”