ACU (13-14, 5-9) fell just short Wednesday night losing 91-89 in a double overtime thriller against Stephen F. Austin (18-10,10-5).
The Wildcats, who were coming into the game off back-to-back losses were looking to turn things around with a statement win against the Lumberjacks. ACU lost 68-75 in the first matchup when these two teams met back in late December.
From the opening tip, SFA would control the first half and the Lumberjacks would get up by as many as 13 and eventually take a 42-31 lead into halftime.
“It’s become a habit of ours to not start games well,” head coach Brette Tanner said. “We got pushed around, shoved around and they owned us for 18 of the first 20 minutes.
However, ACU would slowly but surely creep their way back into the game during the second half and with 7:25 remaining in the second half, senior guard Immanuel Allen would hit a 3-pointer to put ACU up 66-64 and give the Wildcats their first lead since it was 2-0.
ACU would see its largest lead of six late into the half but SFA would gain a one-point lead with under a minute to play in regulation. With 47 seconds left, junior guard Hunter Jack Madden would get sent to the foul line for two free throws to put ACU up one. Madden would split the pair tying the game at 75. After two stalled offensive possessions the game would head to its first overtime.
“I made a terrible call to finish regulation,” Tanner said. “ We should have won that thing in regulation and that’s my fault. I ran something I knew that they could guard well. We had already run it and they were ready for it. Just with our size difference if they guard it right we’re not gonna get a shot off.”
In the first overtime, the two teams would go back and forth exchanging baskets and once again both get good looks on a last shot but they would not fall, sending the game to a second overtime.
In the second overtime, the Wildcats would go 4-4 from the charity stripe but would find themselves down 87-89 with the ball and 28 seconds remaining. Sophomore guard Ali Abdou Dibba, who had a season-high 21 points on the night, had a good look for the tie but unfortunately could not hit it.
Despite the unfortunate loss, senior forward Joe Pleasant brought in 18 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double on the season and senior forward Airion Simmons finds himself now only one point shy from 1000 career points.
“We’ve got to be better,” Tanner said. “We’ve got the team that’s winning the league on Saturday. It doesn’t get any easier. And then we go on the road to a team who’s trying to win the league and then we go to Vegas. Every single night is a battle and if we do what we did [Wednesday night] you’re gonna get beat.”
ACU faces Utah Valley, the No. 1 team in the Western Athletic Conference, on senior night this Saturday. The Wolverines beat the Wildcats in their first matchup this season, 84-54.
The game tips off at 6 p.m. in Moody Coliseum and is streaming live on ESPN+ and the ACU Sports Network.
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