Story provided by Lance Fleming, ACU Associate Director of Athletics for Media Relations
NEW ORLEANS -- The Privateers of New Orleans entered Thursday night's game against ACU as one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the Southland Conference. But that didn't hold true against the Wildcats as New Orleans buried ACU at the free throw line as the Privateers took an 87-81 win over ACU in the Wildcats' return to the Southland Conference at Lakefront Arena.
New Orleans was shooting just 62.4 percent from the stripe entering the contest, but hit 32 of 45 overall (71.1 percent), including 9 of 12 in the final 2:44 of the contest to pull away from ACU. The Privateers, in fact, ended the game on an 11-5 run over the final 3:02 of the contest after ACU had tied the game at 76-76 on a Parker Wentz 3-pointer at the 3:18 mark.
After that 3-pointer -- Wentz's fourth of the night -- the Privateers regained the lead almost immediately with a Matt Derenbecker layup to make it 78-76 with 3:02 left in the game. After Wentz missed a 3-pointer on ACU's ensuing possession, Cory Dixon buried two free throws with 2:44 to play after he was fouled on the defensive end by Riley Payne.
ACU missed its next two 3-pointers down four (80-76) before Kevin Hill hit two more free throws at the 1:44 mark to make it an 82-76 game. But Wentz hit a jumper with 1:14 to go to cut it to 82-78, and after an Isaak Mack free throw with 1:09 to play, Wentz stole the ball from Christavious Gill with 43 seconds to play. The ball wound up in the hands of James Pegues, who fed it to Harrison Hawkins for a 3-pointer to draw ACU to within 83-81 with 38 seconds to play.
But the Wildcats wouldn't get anything else to drop and the Privateers hit their final four free throws to seal the contest. Tradarrius McPherson -- a 60 percent free throw shooter entering the game -- hit 7 of 9 from the stripe (77.8 percent), while Kevin Hill -- a 67 percent shooter from the line -- hit 8 of 10 (80 percent) from the stripe.
ACU, meanwhile, hit just 18 of 25 from the free throw line (72.0 percent), led by Hawkins, who was 6 of 6 from the stripe.
Hawkins led the Wildcats with 19 points, while Wentz poured in 16 and Williams scored 15 for ACU. Jacob Lancaster and Michael Grant came off the bench to score eight apiece for the Wildcats.