The Wildcats defeated the University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks 80-71 in overtime on Tuesday night at the College Park Center in Arlington.
Head coach Brette Tanner’s first head coaching win came against another first-year head coach in Mavericks head coach Greg Young. Tanner said he’s known Coach Young for a long time.
“UTA’s a great team,” Tanner said. “I knew we were going to be in for a fight but that’s who we are, that’s ACU basketball. These guys continue to find a way.”
Redshirt junior guard Immanuel Allen hit a 3-pointer with under a second left to send the game to overtime. The Wildcats then went on a 17-8 run in overtime to secure Tanner’s first career win as head coach of the Wildcats.
“I wasn’t drawing up anything [on the final possession of the second half], I was thinking ‘Oh man, now what,'” Tanner said. “Late in the game like that, you have to trust your players and they made plays for us.”
Leading the way for the Wildcats were senior guards Coryon Mason with 21 points and Mahki Morris with a career-high 20 points, 10 of which were in overtime on 3-3 shooting and 4-5 from the free-throw line, which Tanner said was crucial to the team’s win.
“He didn’t play a lot down the stretch because of the lineup we had in but to play the way he did in overtime was huge,” Tanner said. “I told him after the game it’s not about the shots, he’s scoring because he bought in on the defensive end. When you start doing that, it’s amazing what can happen on the other end of the floor.”
In the first two games of the season, the Wildcats were shooting 46.7 percent from the free-throw line but shot 76.3 percent from the stripe against the Mavericks. The Wildcats also continued their dominance on the defensive end forcing 28 Maverick turnovers and scoring 35 points off their turnovers.
“Every season has a game that you always look back to like, ‘That game determined our season,'” Tanner said. “Time will determine, but I have a feeling that last night’s game is going to be a big part of what this season brings. I wasn’t really thinking about my first win, I was thinking more about what a weight it must be to get off those guys’ shoulders.”
Next up for the Wildcats are the Div. III McMurry Warhawks for ACU’s home opener on Friday in the Teague Special Events Center at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.