ACU (12-11, 4-6) earned its second straight win in Western Athletic Conference play on Wednesday, taking down the Seattle University Redhawks (16-7, 7-3) 83-68 in Climate Pledge Arena.
With the road win, the Wildcats handed the Redhawks their first loss at home during the 2022-23 season. The win also allowed the Wildcats to stay in the hunt for higher seeding for the WAC tournament. Currently, ACU is the ninth place team in the standings, but only two games back from grabbing the fifth place spot.
After the game, head coach Brette Tanner said that he hopes this win will boost his team’s confidence and show, despite a rough start in conference play, that they are one of the top teams in the WAC.
“We’ve always believed we were one of the better teams in the league and but we had to prove it,” Tanner said. “We lost a few times to teams at the top of the league by two points at home. But to be the only team to beat them at home, especially since it’s so hard to come to Seattle U and win a game, hopefully will gives us a little confidence. It doesn’t mean that we’re going to win all games, of course, because this league is so good, but I’m as proud of the players.”
The first half was an offensive slug fest, with both teams scoring from the field and the 3-point line. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field but Seattle University had one more made field goal and 3-pointer over ACU, giving them a 49-44 lead at halftime.
The second half proved to be an entirely different ball game. The Wildcats held the Redhawks to 19 points in the second half while the ACU offense continued to thrive. A 10-0 run to start the half and a 12-0 in four minutes towards the end of the game sealed the game for the Wildcats. Tanner later credited the stunning second half showing to the team’s defense and rebounding.
“The key to being a good defensive team is finishing with a rebound,” Tanner said. “You can’t just play great in the half court and give them second opportunities. So second half we only gave up two offensive rebounds and then we got a couple of steals that led to baskets. We didn’t get any of those in the first half. That’s what we talk about after the game in the locker room. People may think we played great offensively, which we did. But we played great defensively and that’s what led to our offense.”
Four Wildcats finished the game in double digits. Senior guard Damien Daniels scored 15 points while graduate guard Tobias Cameron and sophomore guard Ja’Sean Jackson scored 11 points. Leading all scorers was senior forward Joe Pleasant who tied his career-high with 24 points, shooting 50 percent from the field and 3-4 from the 3-point line all while earning seven rebounds.
The Wildcats now continue their West Coast road trip as they head to Riverside, California to take on the eighth ranked team in the WAC, the California Baptist Lancers (13-10, 5-5). This will be the first time ACU takes on CBU on the road with the first ever matchup being a 77-68 Wildcat win in Abilene last season.
According to Tanner, the best way for the team to prepare for the crucial matchup is for the team to rest.
“We’re going to take care of our bodies. We had a we had a crazy day of travel. Getting to Seattle already is not easy, especially when you’re trying to fight an ice storm. Now we have to get on a plane and fly to Los Angeles and then bus couple hours to get to Riverside. There’s a reason why people that go on this trip struggle, but we were fortunate to go out and get this first one. To get the second one, I think we have to be smart and we have to rest our bodies tomorrow.”
The second-ever matchup between the Wildcats and Lancers tips off Saturday at 9 p.m. inside the CBU Events Center with the game streaming live on ESPN+ and the ACU Sports Network.
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