Thibodeaux’s clutch foul shooting helps defending Southland champs UNO beat ACU
Thibodeaux’s FT with 17.3 Ticks Seals Conference Opening W for Defending Champs
NEW ORLEANS – The Privateers shot 50.0 percent from the floor and went 33-of-47 from the charity stripe, none bigger than Travin Thibodeaux’s FT with 17.3 seconds remaining that put the University of New Orleans ahead and clinched the victory for the Privateers (4-8, 1-0 Southland), 77-74, Thursday evening at Lakefront Arena. Thibodeaux scored 20 points versus Abilene Christian University (8-6, 0-1 Southland), the fourth 20-point game for the senior this season and fifth consecutive double-digit scoring performance.
Thibs added eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. Makur Puou scored 16 points – 14 in the second half – and Troy Green added 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Diontae Champion concluded his first Southland Conference game with nine points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists.
Abilene Christian led by as much as 10 with 4:32 left but a 10-0 run knotted the game with 1:56 remaining in the stanza. The run followed ACU’s 9-0 and was the longest of the game. Earlier in the period, New Orleans posted eight unanswered to cut its deficit to one.
Thibodeaux led all players with 10 points, four coming from the charity stripe. The Privateers attempted 24 free throws in the half and offset the Wildcats’ 50.0 percent shooting from the field.
After an Abilene Christian triple began the half, New Orleans scored six unanswered to take its first lead since the opening bucket.
ACU regained the lead but seconds later, Puou’s layup put the Privateers in front 42-41 with 16:00 remaining.
The layup began an 8-0 UNO run with six points coming from Puou and three total team steals, two by Bryson Robinson, to put the Privateers in front 48-41 with 13:41 left.
Moments later, New Orleans took its longest lead of the game, 52-44, at the 12:26 mark on Green’s layup.
The three-point shot was pure for the Wildcats and allowed the visiting club to regain the lead with 6:16 remaining in regulation but the Privateers continued to find their way to the charity stripe and cashed in as Thibs’ drained both to put UNO in the driver’s seat 62-61.
The Privateer faithful were brought to their feet on a rising dunk by Diontae Champion off the Green dish at the 5:01 mark, extending the lead to five.
Tying the largest lead it held in the game, UNO took a 71-63 edge with just under three minutes remaining.
Tevin Foster took over late in the game, scoring nine consecutive points to put Abilene in front 74-73 with 26 ticks remaining but Thibodeaux hit two clutch free throws to put UNO back in front by one with 17.3.
New Orleans closed the book on any comeback attempt with Puou’s dunk with seven seconds remaining, defeating the Wildcats 77-74.
The defending Southland Conference champions head to H-Town to battle Houston Baptist to conclude the 2017 portion of its schedule.
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