ABILENE - The ACU Wildcats overcame a cold start Friday night as they ended 2011 with an 85-82 win over Dallas Baptist in non-conference men's college basketball action at Moody Coliseum.
The win snaps a four-game losing streak for the Wildcats and pushes them to 6-6 overall under first-year head coach Joe Golding. The Patriots of Dallas Baptist - who beat ACU 80-72 in Dallas on Nov. 22 - fall to 9-5 with the loss.
ACU will return to action Tuesday (Jan. 3) when it hosts Incarnate Word at 7:30 p.m. in a Lone Star Conference game at Moody Coliseum.
The streak-snapping win didn't come easy as the Wildcats lost a seven-point lead late in the game and had to survive a potential 4-point play and a desperation 3-point shot at the buzzer.
The Wildcats only had seven points midway through the first half and didn't break into double digits until Kendall Durant hit a jumper with 8:58 left in the first half to cut the DBU lead to 23-12. The Patriots - who at one point held a 16-point lead in the first half - saw ACU rally to cut the lead to as few as seven points (31-24) on a free throw by Antonio Bell with 3:57 left in the first half.
The Wildcats - who trailed 39-31 at halftime - opened the second half on a 9-0 run that was keyed by the inspired defensive play of Eric Milam, who had a pair of steals and a defensive rebound in the early run.
Durant opened the half with back-to-back 3-pointers before Bell buried another triple to give ACU its first lead at 40-39 with 18:31 left in the game.
DBU would rebound, however, and went on a 10-2 run to regain a 49-42 lead. The run ended with 13:45 left in the game on a 3-pointer by Wesley Gipson.
But the Wildcats got back into it and finally took the lead for good at 59-57 on a Bell jumper with 9:12 left in the game. ACU pushed its lead out to 68-61 with 6:51 left before DBU rallied again to cut it to 68-66.
ACU looked to have finally put the game away with 40 seconds left when Durant hit two free throws to make it 82-74. But T.J. Clark hit two free throws with 31 seconds left to make it 82-76 and Nick Fox hit an off-balance 3-pointer with 20 seconds left and was fouled by Durant, sending him to the line for an attempt at a 4-point play.
Fox, though, missed the free throw and ACU led 83-79. After a Zach Williams turnover with 20 seconds left, DBU had two shots at cutting into the lead and Jordan McGowen connected on the second attempt, burying a 3-pointer with nine seconds left to make it an 83-82 game.
But Durant buried two free throws with a little less than five seconds left to push the lead to 85-82 and Armie Lewis missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Wildcats the win.
Durant and Williams each had 22 for the Wildcats, who finished the night 29 of 57 from the field (50.9 percent), including 7 of 19 from 3-point range. Williams was 10 of 14 from the field and pulled down seven rebounds in 34 minutes of action.
Bell had 13 points and three assists, while Marc Little had 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Dallas Baptist was led by McGowen, who had 27 points and 10 rebounds and was 6 of 9 from 3-point range, leading a DBU team that hit 13 of 29 3-point attempts (44.8 percent)
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