ACU's road blues continue at A&M-Corpus
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Texas A&M-Corpus Christi might have the best 1-2 punch in the Southland Conference in senior forward Rashawn Thomas and junior guard Ehab Amin, and the ACU Wildcats knew stopping that duo was their biggest defensive assignment Saturday night at the American Bank Center.
But Thomas scored 28 points and Amin added 23 as they combined for 51 of their team's 72 points as the Islanders improved to 6-0 all-time against ACU with a 72-60 win over the Wildcats.
The Wildcats' second straight loss drops them to 8-12 overall and 2-7 in the Southland Conference, while the Islanders improve to 11-9 and 4-5.
The Islanders took control of the game with a 14-5 run to end the half, including an 11-0 run by Thomas that turned a tight game into a bit of a runaway late in the first half. ACU trailed just 23-20 with 6:22 left in the first half after a free throw by Hayden Howell, leaving the pace of the game in ACU's favor.
But the Islanders turned the game over to their 6-8 senior forward from Oklahoma City and he showed off the skills that made him the pre-season player of the year in the Southland Conference, burying back-to-back jumpers, followed by a 3-pointer, another jumper and then two free throws to cap a personal 11-0 run to push his team's lead to 34-20 with 4:25 left in the half.
Drake Green - who led the Wildcats with eight points in the first half - stopped the run with a pair of free throws, but the Islanders were able to carry a 37-25 lead into halftime.
The Wildcats were able to cut the lead to 46-39 with 14:15 to play on an Isaiah Tripp corner 3-pointer. The Islanders, however, answered with a 6-0 run to push their lead back to 52-39, and that was as close as the Wildcats would get until they got to within 10 points twice in the final eight minutes, first on a Payten Ricks 3-pointer with 7:32 left to make it 61-51, and then on a pair of Hayden Farquhar free throws with 3:33 to play to make it 66-56.
Jaren Lewis - who, along with Green, led the Wildcats with 11 points - had a chance to bring ACU to within eight points with 3:10 to play, but missed a pair of free throws, and the Islanders answered with a 6-2 run to close our the Wildcats.
-- ACU got to the free throw line 15 times in the first half, but made just eight of those attempts as their season-long struggles at the free throw line continued. After finishing the game 18 for 30 at the line, ACU is shooting just .645 at the line this season, including .606 in conference play.
-- The Wildcats didn't have a field goal in the final 9:03 of the first half after a Hayden Farquhar layup on a feed from Isaiah Tripp fell to cut Corpus Christi's lead to 23-19. That streak lasted until the 18:43 mark of the second half when Jalone Friday got a tip-in of his own miss to cut the Islanders' lead to 37-27.
-- Friday - who scored a career-high 26 points Thursday in ACU's 82-79 loss at Incarnate Word and was averaging 15.4 points per game in conference play - picked up his fourth foul in Saturday's game with 17:23 left in the second half and went to the bench with just five points. He sat for the next six minutes before re-entering the game with 11:06 to play. He picked up his fifth foul with 4:43 to play, fouling out of his seventh game this season and finishing with just seven points in 19 minutes. The seven points marks just the fifth time in 20 games that he hasn't reached double figures in scoring.
-- Sophomore post Hayden Howell had nine free throw attempts in the first half, eclipsing by one attempt his previous career high of eight attempts in a game, first set Dec. 20, 2015, at TCU, and later tied Feb. 2, 2016, vs. Houston Baptist.
-- The Wildcats went a combined 16 minutes, 14 seconds of game time without scoring from the field. They went the final 9:03 of the first half without a field goal and a stretch of 7:32 to 0:21 of the second half without a field goal.
"We knew going into the game that we had to trap Rashawn Thomas and get after him defensively and we just didn't do a good job on him. The bottom line is they really had two guys score, and they beat us. You can't let that happen. I was pleased that we got to the free throw line (30 attempts), but at some point we have to step up and make them. We'll get home and get back to work because we've got two big home games coming up this week." - ACU head coach Joe Golding
After three straight road games, the Wildcats will be back at home Wednesday, Feb. 1, when they host the Privateers of the University of New Orleans in a game set for a 7 p.m. tipoff in Moody Coliseum. The game will be broadcast on 98.1 FM (98theticket.com) and can be seen on www.acusports.com.
Courtesy ACU Sports.