Half-court shot stuns Cardinals

Published 9:22 pm Saturday, January 14, 2017

Lamar sports information

ABILENE – Abilene Christian’s Payten Ricks hit a half-court shot off the glass as the buzzer sounded to stun the Lamar Cardinals, 67-64, Saturday afternoon at Moody Coliseum. The field goal, which was one of only two for Ricks, was the final dagger in a come-from-behind victory that saw ACU rally from 15 points down in the second half.

The Cardinals (11-7, 3-2 SLC) shot 42 percent from the field but struggled in the second half knocking down just 8 of 21 (.381) attempts. In a rare off night from long range for the Cardinals, LU struggled from three-point range knocking down just 2 of 18 attempts (.111) for the game and none in the second half.

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After shooting less than 37 percent in the opening 20 minutes, the Wildcats were 12-of-24 (.500) in the second half and finished the game at better than 42 percent. ACU knocked down three of their last seven three-point attempts while shooting 15-of-18 from the free throw line.

The Cardinals were led by another double-double from junior Colton Weisbrod who finished the game with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He was one of three Cardinals in double figures as sophomore Dorian Chatman came off the bench to score 16 points (5-of-7, .714). Senior Lincoln Davis added 12 points.

The Wildcats were led by 23 points from Jalone Friday, while Jaren Lewis added 13 points and 11 rebounds.

ACU knocked down five of their first eight attempts from the field to take an early four-point lead, 12-8, but as the half wore on the Wildcats were hurt by turnovers. ACU turned the ball over eight times in the first 20 minutes which the Cards converted into seven points. The Red and White only turned the ball over four times in the first half.

The Cardinals managed to build their advantage to double digits late in the half and appeared to take an 11-point lead into the locker room after ACU lost the ball out of bounds on a drive. After reviewing the play, the officials ruled that LU was the last to touch the ball and they put 1.5 seconds back on the clock. That decision would prove costly as the Wildcats inbounded the ball to Friday who hit an off-balance shot from the free throw line before the horn sounded.

Big Red’s defense was tough in the first half holding Abilene Christian to 11 of 30 (.367) from the field, and didn’t allow ACU to get to the free throw line. Only five ACU players scored in the opening 20 minutes led Lewis’ nine points.

As if unaffected by the first-half buzzer beater that could have handed ACU the momentum, the Cardinals responded by marching out to a 15-point advantage at the 13:03 mark of the second half. After Lewis hit a jumper to trim the lead by two points it appeared the Cardinals had a breakaway at the other end of the floor but sophomore Josh Nzeakor was fouled hard and sent sprawling to the floor. One official signaled for an intentional foul, but after the officials huddled together a technical foul was called on Nzeakor. Isaiah Tripp made the two technical shots for ACU, and Nzeakor responded by going 1-of-2 from the line.

That exchange began a slow spiral that saw the Wildcats claw their way back into the game. ACU took advantage of a nearly 5-minute scoring drought to pull within three, 53-50 with 5:32 remaining. Following a Friday three-pointer to tie the game at 53, which capped a 20-5 run, the Cardinals were able to strike back but not before Nzeakor fouled out of the game and Chatman picked up his fourth personal foul.

The two teams alternated baskets on their next four possessions before the Cardinals got a jumper from Joey Frenchwood and two Weisbrod free throws to move back in front by four, 61-57, with less than three to play. The free throws would be the Cards’ final points for the next 1:26 as ACU got a layup from Friday and Ricks to tie the game back up with 1:53 on the clock. LU then got two free throws from Chatman and one from Bosha to take a three-point lead with 31 second remaining, but the Wildcats would knock down two three-pointers in the game’s final 18 seconds – aided by an LU turnover – to steal a win from the Cardinals.

The Cardinals will look to bounce back Thursday when they return to action at Sam Houston State.