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Philip Austin Brooks leads wildcard victory over Tigers

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The ACU Wildcats shot just 26 percent and scored only 24 points in the second half Thursday night, but both of those were just enough to help them secure a 62-57 win over East Central in a Lone Star Conference crossover men’s game at Moody Coliseum.

The Wildcats’ fourth straight victory pushes them to 9-3 on the season, while the Tigers fall to 7-5. ACU had won just eight games in each of the last two seasons as second-year head coach Jason Copeland’s team continues to show improvement. ACU will go for its 10th win of the season at 4 p.m. Saturday when it hosts Southeastern Oklahoma State in another crossover contest.

The Wildcats led by 16 points late in the first half (38-22) before settling for a 38-27 halftime lead. But ACU couldn’t find its shooting touch in the second half as the Wildcats scored just four points on two baskets in the first 9:40 of the second half.

But the Tigers weren’t much better from the field, although they did manage to tie the game at 44-44 with 8:29 to play on a Jason Thomas three-point play. One minute later, though, Riley Lambert knifed through the ECU defense for a driving layup to give his team a 46-44 lead with 7:34 to play.

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From that point on, it was a see-saw contest that saw the Tigers take their first lead of the second half with 2:54 to play on a 3-pointer by Jason Thomas to make it a 51-50 game. But ACU’s Philip Brooks would answer as he hit three free throws after being fouled by James Nave with 2:37 to play to give ACU a 53-51 lead.

Thomas would again give the Tigers a lead (54-53) with 1:46 to play, but Brooks answered again with a clutch 3-pointer to give the Wildcats the lead for good, 56-54 with 1:35 to play. Brooks added a key rebound of a Terrell Carpenter miss with 53 seconds left, and then Elmo Williams buried a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left to make it 58-54.

Brooks hit two more free throws with nine seconds left before Thomas hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left to make it 60-57. But Norman Alexander sealed it with a pair of free throws with less than one second to play.

Brooks finished with a team-high 17 points, while Marcos Hubner and Alexander each had 10 points for the Wildcats.

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