The ACU Wildcats put up a gallant fight to rally from a 15-point halftime deficit Saturday afternoon, but couldn't close out the win when they had their chances as they dropped an 85-77 double-overtime heartbreaker to Southeastern Louisiana.
The loss drops the Wildcats to 6-10 overall and 0-2 in the Southland Conference, while the Lions improve to 7-8 and 2-2 ACU was to have played Oral Roberts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Moody Coliseum, but ORU was forced to forfeit the game because of scheduling problems. That win will technically be the Wildcats' first in the Southland Conference and push them to 7-10 overall and 1-2 in league play.
Because of the forfeit, ACU's next game won't be played until Saturday at 3 p.m. when it hosts Central Arkansas at Moody Coliseum.
The Wildcats played a lethargic first half and trailed 40-25 as it appeared the Lions would cruise to the victory. But a rejuvenated ACU team took the floor for the second half and immediately got back into the game, holding the Lions to just seven points in the first 13:13 of the half.
ACU, meanwhile, found its offense in LaDarrien Williams and Harrison Hawkins, who combined for 14 of ACU's 18 points in an 18-7 run that cut the Southeastern lead to 47-43 with 6:59 to play.
From there it was a back-and-forth contest with ACU trailing by as many as seven points (62-55) with 2:25 to play after a JaMichael Hawkins four-point play. But Hawkins hit three straight free throws to make it 62-58 with 1:17 to play before Onochie Ochie slammed one home for a 64-58 lead at 1:02 left in regulation.
But Riley Payne hit a jumper with 48 seconds left, and after Joshua Filmore missed the front end of a one-and-one, Austin Cooke grabbed the rebound and Hawkins buried a 3-pointer to make it 64-63 with 30 seconds to play. Southeastern's Antonio Benton missed a dunk with 17 seconds left and the ricochet went out of bounds to the Wildcats, who had a chance to win it with the last shot.
Williams was fouled on a drive down the lane with four seconds to play, sending the 71-percent free-throw shooter to the line with a chance to win the game. Williams made the first shot to tie the game at 64-64, but the second shot -- taken with tired and sore legs as Williams played 47 minutes off the bench while battling shin splints -- was short and Southeastern grabbed the rebound. The Lions' last-second heave fell short to send the game to overtime.
In the first overtime period, the Wildcats took a 70-68 lead with 1:09 to play on a jumper in the lane by Williams, and then Filmore missed a shot and Hawkins grabbed the rebound for the Wildcats with 47 seconds to play. Austin Cooke was fouled on the ensuing possession with ACU leading by two and went to the line with 29 seconds left with a chance to put the Lions in a deep hole.
Cooke, however, missed the first free throw and made the second to make it a 71-68 lead. Filmore hit a driving lay-up with 23 seconds left to make it 71-70 and Cooke was intentionally fouled by the Lions to send him back to the line with 12 seconds left and a chance to make it a three-point game.
But Cooke -- who gutted out 44 minutes to finish with 10 points and 12 rebounds -- again hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 72-70, leaving the door open for the Lions. Filmore missed the tying shot for the Lions, but Benton grabbed his only offensive rebound of the night and put it back in to tie the game at 72-72 and send the contest to double-overtime.
ACU led as late as 2:17 left in the game (77-76 on a jumper by Williams), but Benton buried a 3-pointer with 2:04 to play to put the Lions up 79-77 and that would be the dagger. The Wildcats didn't score the rest of the way, and that 3-pointer was the first of three straight 3-pointers for the Lions, who escaped with the victory.
Williams and Hawkins each posted career highs in points as Williams went for 30 and Hawkins 29 in 90 combined minutes. Cooke played 44 minutes and Parker Wentz 41 for the Wildcats, who last played a double-overtime game on Nov. 22, 2008, when they lost 92-90 to Huston-Tillotson at Moody Coliseum.
Information provided by ACU athletics department.