Seattle deals Abilene Christian men fifth straight loss in WAC basketball action

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ACU's Coryon Mason, right, shoots over Seattle's Cameron Tyson as Brandton Chatfield (25) looks on in the first half.
ACU's Coryon Mason, right, shoots over Seattle's Cameron Tyson as Brandton Chatfield (25) looks on in the first half.

The Abilene Christian men’s basketball team has made a name for itself the last few years because of its defense.

But when the points aren’t coming off turnovers because of that defense, the offense can be, well, pretty offensive.

That’s been the problem in the Wildcats’ recent skid, and it continued to be a problem in Thursday’s 72-62 loss against Seattle in a Western Athletic Conference game at the Teague Center.

ACU took 62 shots – 15 more than the Redhawks – and lost its fifth consecutive game.

“The things we’re doing offensively aren’t working anymore,” ACU coach Brette Tanner said. “We’ve got to reinvent ourselves a little bit. That’s on me. That’s my job. We have good players, and they’re going to find a way to get out of this little funk. When they do, they’re going be pretty dangerous I think.”

Cameron Tyson led Seattle (14-4 overall, 5-0 WAC) with a game-high 20 points, while Riley Grigsby followed with 15, and Damon Trammell had 14. Kyree Brown also had 12 off the bench as Seattle won its sixth straight game.

The Redhawks took sole possession of the WAC lead, after New Mexico State (15-3, 4-1) and Grand Canyon (14-3, 4-1) both lost their first league games Thursday night.

Sam Houston State beat NMSU 71-46 in Huntsville, while Stephen F. Austin beat Grand Canyon by the same score in Nacogdoches.

Reggie Miller led ACU (11-7, 2-5) with 12 points, and Mahki Morris had 10. The loss dropped the Wildcats to 11th out of 13 teams in the league.

ACU's Immanuel Allen, right, and Airion Simmons, left, tie up Seattle's Kyree Brown in the second half. The play gave ACU the ball trailing 62-50 with 2:29 left in the game.
ACU's Immanuel Allen, right, and Airion Simmons, left, tie up Seattle's Kyree Brown in the second half. The play gave ACU the ball trailing 62-50 with 2:29 left in the game.

From wild to mild cats

The Redhawks shot 44.7% overall, hitting 21 of 47 shots, including 5 of 18 3-point goals.

ACU also hit 21 shots, including 7 of 24 3-point goals, and actually outscored Seattle 49-47 from the field. But the Redhawks hit 25 of 31 free throws, while the Wildcats went to the line 16 times, hitting 13.

“We’re not getting to the free-throw line,” Tanner said. “What does that tell you? That tells you we’re not being very aggressive. This is a (Seattle) team that averages like 15 free-throw attempts a game and they shot 31.

"They were more aggressive than we were, and that shouldn’t be the case.”

ACU's Damien Daniels passes the ball to a teammate during the second half against Seattle.
ACU's Damien Daniels passes the ball to a teammate during the second half against Seattle.

Familiar script, familiar ending

ACU has followed a pretty familiar script during the five-game skid, especially the last three home games – dig a big hole in the first half, make a dramatic run in the second half only to come up short.

The Wildcats have trailed at halftime in all five losses – three of those by 12 or more and another by seven. They actually played NMSU, the preseason league favorite, fairly close on the road, trailing by four at halftime (28-24) before losing 77-63.

Seattle never trailed in Thursday’s game, though the first 10 minutes both teams played outstanding defense in a 9-6 game. The Redhawks went on an 8-3 run, only to see ACU fight back to pull within three (21-18 with 4:04 to go in the half).

But as the case all night, every time the Wildcats made a run, Seattle answered. Cameron hit a shot from near half court at the buzzer to give the Redhawks a 35-22 halftime lead.

Tanner, who had been talking to his team about better shot selection during the week, thinks his team came out in the first half afraid to be aggressive offensively.

“I think, honestly, they took it too literal,” he said. “I think they took it as, ‘Hey, put the handcuffs on and let’s slow down.’ That’s what the first half looked like. That was not the intent. I don’t know why they would think that.”

ACU whittled the lead to four (35-31) with a 9-0 run in the first three minutes of the second half.

Seattle coach Chris Victor, left, reacts to a call against his Redhawks in the second half of their game against ACU.
Seattle coach Chris Victor, left, reacts to a call against his Redhawks in the second half of their game against ACU.

There were times in the second half when both teams struggled to score, but the Redhawks always managed to keep ACU at bay.

While Seattle didn’t shoot as well in the second half, hitting 9 of 24 shots after converting 12 of 23 in the first half, the Redhawks did make their free throws – ACU’s penance for having to play catchup. Seattle hit 10 of 12 free throws in the final 2:06 to offset consecutive 3-point goals by Coryon Mason and Morris to make it a 62-53 game with 2:14 remaining.

CU's Immanuel Allen (25) drives against Seattle's Kobe Williamson (33), Emeka Udenyi (15) and Cameron Tyson in the first half.
CU's Immanuel Allen (25) drives against Seattle's Kobe Williamson (33), Emeka Udenyi (15) and Cameron Tyson in the first half.

Fighting adversity

This is ACU’s longest losing streak since dropping four straight in their last five regular-season games the 2017-18 season. The Wildcats had only two losing streaks since then – dropping three and two straight – both early in the 2019-20 season, before the current skid.

“We’ve had some adversity, but never like this,” Tanner said. “They’re handling it fine. The locker room right there, are they disappointed? Absolutely. … We’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to hold each other accountable. Iron sharpens iron. If we’ve ever needed to really sharpen each other, this is the time to do it. And our house can’t be divided right now.”

Up next

ACU plays California Baptist (12-6, 2-3) at 3 p.m. Saturday in a WAC game at the Teague Center. The Lancers beat Tarleton 88-84 on Thursday in Stephenville. They’ve lost three of their last five games.

Tanner said his team must play loose and be aggressive to snap its current skid, which comes on the heels of an 11-game win streak.

“We’re that same team that won 11 straight, and we didn’t just win 11 straight against bad teams,” Tanner said. “We beat some really good teams. Teams that are in first place in their league … We’re still that same group. We’ve got to get back to that confidence and that mentality. I think we will, but we need to do it sooner than later.”

ACU coach Brette Tanner looks on as one of his Wildcats go to the free-throw line in the second half against Seattle.
ACU coach Brette Tanner looks on as one of his Wildcats go to the free-throw line in the second half against Seattle.

Joey D. Richards covers Abilene high schools and colleges, Big Country schools and other local sports. Follow him at Twitter at ARN_Joey. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.

WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Seattle 72, ACU 62

Seattle ... 35 ... 37 — 72

ACU ... 22 ... 40 — 62

SEATTLE (14-4, 5-0) – Chatfield 1-1 0-0 2, Udenyi 3-6 0-0 6, Trammell 2-9 10-12 14, Tyson 6-13 5-6 20, Grigsby 7-11 0-0 15, Brown 1-4 10-13 12, Williamson 1-2 0-0 3, Pandza 0-1 0-0 0, Rajkovic 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-47 25-31 72.

ABILENE CHRISTIAN (11-7, 2-5) – Simmons 3-10 3-6 9, Steele 1-8 0-0 3, Mason 4-11 0-0 9, Miller 4-10 2-2 12, Morris 3-8 2-2 10, Allen 2-6 2-2 6, Daniels 1-4 0-0 2, Cameron 1-3 0-0 2, Jackson 2-2 4-4 9, McLaughlin 0-1 0-0 0, Cadeaux de Dieu 0-0 0-0 0, Gai 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-63 13-16 62.

3-Point Goals – Seattle 5-18 (Tyson 3-8, Williamson 1-1, Grigsby 1-3, Brown 0-1, Trammell 0-5), Abilene Christian 7-24 (Miller 2-3, Morris 2-5, Jackson 1-1, Mason 1-3, Steele 1-5, Cameron 0-1, McLaughlin 0-1, Allen 0-2, Simmons 0-3). Rebounds – Seattle 31 (Udenyi, Trammell 6), Abilene Christian 31 (Simmons 7). Assists – Seattle 9 (Trammell 5), Abilene Christian 7 (Miller, Allen 2). Total Fouls – Seattle 18, Abilene Christian 25. Fouled Out – None. Technical Fouls – Seattle: Trammell; ACU: Cameron. A – 1,179 (1,000).

This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Seattle Redhawks beat Abilene Christian men in WAC basketball play

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