Steven Werner's free throw with 18 seconds left sealed a too-close-for-comfort 75-73 victory for the Abilene Christian men's basketball team over Dallas Baptist Tuesday night at Moody Coliseum.
Werner's basket put the Wildcats ahead 75-71 and provided just enough cushion even as the Patriots missed their last two 3-point attempts before settling for a Jonathan Perry layup in the final second.
The victory was ACU's third straight, lifting its season record to 3-1, while DBU fell to 1-3. The Patriots are winless since beating ACU, 79-72, on opening night at The Burg Center.
After leading by as many as 22 points at 57-35 early in the second half, the Wildcats likely never expected to find themselves sweating it out at the free-throw line, but that's exactly what happened after the Patriots took off on a 32-13 run in between the first and last media timeouts. DBU was assisted during this stretch by six 3-pointers, including three by Cory Carden, and a pair of 3-point plays from Wesley Gipson and Nick Fox, who began the rally with his trey at the 14:49 mark.
Carden's third long-range bomb dropped the Wildcat lead into single digits with 6:46 remaining, and then his two free throws coming out of the under-four media timeout, made it a one-point game at 70-69.
Werner pushed the lead back to three with his layup at 2:56 for the Wildcats' final field goal of the night, but the Patriots were unable to capitalize as they missed their next four attempts, allowed an offensive rebound that cost them and additional 32 seconds, and had Ryan Baker called for traveling with 1:09 remaining.
The Patriots got the ball back trailing 72-69 with 37 seconds left, but as soon as Carden received the ball he was fouled along the baseline by Elliott Lloyd. Carden sank both shots to make it a one-point game at 72-71 and then returned the favor by sending Lloyd to the charity stripe, where he went 2-for-2 to make it a 74-71 game.
Carden, however, would miss his next 3-point attempt and Werner was subsequently fouled under the basket after pulling down his lone defensive rebound. Werner missed his first foul shot, but connected on his second to ice the game.
ACU started the game in a nine-point hole, 13-4, but quickly recovered with an 13-0 run led by Lloyd and his three 3-pointers scored during a two-minute stretch. Lloyd then gave way to classmate Eric Lawton, who buried four shots from beyond the arc within a five-minute window. Lawton's final three of the first half at 2:59 put the Wildcats ahead by 13, and freshman T.J. Brown's layup later gave ACU a 16-point lead heading into the break.
The Wildcats continued to pound the Patriots entering the second half, where they made six of their first eight field goals, ending with back-to-back 3-pointers from freshman Parker Wentz and Lawton. The trey from Lawton gave the home team its third 22-point lead of the night going into the first media timeout.
ACU shot over 51 percent in the first half, but finished at 36 percent in the second after finishing 3 of 17 from the field. The Wildcats also struggled at the free-throw line in missing 7 of 23 attempts for a 69.6 success rate. By comparison, DBU made all 14 of its foul shots and shot 53.8 percent from the field in the second half.
Lloyd (23) and Lawton (20) both scored over 20 points, but only three of Lawton's points came during the second half. Werner chipped in 10 points, including four from the foul line, but the 6-foot-8 transfer was held to just three rebounds after posting consecutive double-doubles over the weekend.
Carden finished 4 of 8 from beyond the arc to lead his side with 18 points. Charles Allen, meanwhile, had 13 points for the Patriots and Jordan Kirschke contributed 11, but their star player Fox pulled down just two of 11 rebounds in the second half and was held to eight points on 3 of 7 shooting.
The Wildcats return to action Wednesday, Nov. 28 for their Lone Star Conference season opener at West Texas A&M.
Information for this story provided by ACU Sports Information.