The ACU Wildcats made their last trip to Texas A&M-Commerce's Lion Fieldhouse a memorable one as they pulled out a win they absolutely had to have in their chase for a spot in the Lone Star Conference Post-Season Tournament.
ACU built as much as a 15-point lead in the second half and then survived a barrage of 3-pointers late as they hung on for a 60-57 win over the Lions in what is probably the last time the Wildcats will ever play in Commerce.
The win pushes the Wildcats to 11-10 overall and 5-8 in the Lone Star Conference, which is good for eighth place in the league standings. The top eight teams in the league at the end of the regular season will qualify for the LSC Post-Season Tournament in Allen. ACU has five crucial games left in the regular season, starting with Saturday's home game against Tarleton State at Moody Coliseum. Tipoff between the Wildcats and Texans is set for 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday's win over the Lions came just four days after a disheartening 65-64 loss at Eastern New Mexico that dropped the Wildcats into ninth place in the league standings with a daunting road trip to Commerce staring them in the face.
But after a slow start, the Wildcats poured it on the first half against the Lions and eventually pulled away to a 30-18 halftime lead. ACU eventually pushed the lead out to 15 points at 37-22 with 16:46 to play on an Elliott Lloyd jumper.
The Lions, though, rallied to get back into the game, cutting ACU's lead to four points on several occasions throughout the second half. However, each time the Lions made a run, the Wildcats had an answer.
Commerce cut ACU's lead from 55-46 to 55-51 with two free throws and a 3-pointer by Tyrie Wooten with just 1:47 to play. That was the first of three 3-pointers by the Lions in the last 107 seconds of the contest.
But the Wildcats -- who entered the game shooting just 63 percent from the free throw line -- made 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch, including seeing Eric Lawton and Simms hit each of their two free throws inside the final 41 seconds.
ACU led 60-54 with 20 seconds left after Lawton buried a pair of free throws, but Preston Whitley hit a 3-pointer with nine seconds to play to cut ACU's lead to 60-57. After a Commerce timeout, ACU freshman Parker Wentz turned the ball over, giving the Lions a chance to tie the game. But Wooten's 3-pointer at the buzzer was off-target and the Wildcats had the victory.
Simmons finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes, while Lloyd had 15 points and six rebounds. Lawton had 12 points for the Wildcats, while Steven Werner had eight points and five rebounds.
Information for this story provided by ACU Sports Information.