UNO falls in Southland opener at ACU
ABILENE, Texas – With the game time moved up 1.5 hours due to weather, the Privateers looked energized early, but the University of New Orleans (5-7, 0-1 Southland) fell to Abilene Christian University (12-2, 1-0 Southland) Wednesday evening at Moody Coliseum.
Scott Plaisance Jr. finished with a career-high 18 points, seven rebounds and a block and Ezekiel Charles added 12 points six boards and five steals. Damion Rosser pulled down eight rebounds. The final score did not indicate just how well the Privateers played with a double-digit lead at the halfway point of the second half.
The Privateers were called for two flagrant fouls in the second half and the depleted roster that entered with some injuries were down to a seven-man squad for the remainder of the game.
THOUGHTS FROM COACH
“I’ve been in some crazy ones, but it’s tough to swallow,” said head coach Mark Slessinger. “We didn’t do some things in the second half and didn’t connect on free throws, but I’m so proud of their effort and how they played through adversity. We will be a handful to deal with.”
New Orleans scored the game’s first six points, highlighted by Plaisance Jr’s and-one. Rosser’s put back moments later forced an ACU timeout and Plaisance Jr’s reverse layup off the Rosser assist extended the UNO lead to double figures with 15:37 to go.
Plaisance Jr. was locked in early with four rebounds and eight points after his second and-one to put UNO ahead 18-4.
At the under-12 media, the Privateers kept their cushion in double digits with the 18-8 lead. The team entered the week ranked in the top five in turnovers forced and steals. New Orleans was 7-of-13 from the field early and the defense limited the Wildcats to 4-of-14 shooting.
Abilene Christian chipped away at the deficit and made it a four-point game with 9:49 to go as Jalone Friday scored 10 of the first 16 points for the home team.
With 5:13 to go, Amari Haynes pulled up and connected while being fouled to give the Privateers a nine-point cushion.
New Orleans attempted 16 free throws in the first half and four players scored five or more points to lead the squad to a 33-26 edge at the break.
Plaisance Jr. was +14 with nine points, four rebounds and a block, Charles added eight points, four rebounds and four steals and Rosser followed with six points and five rebounds.
Abilene Christian shot just 34 percent from the floor and committed eight turnovers.
The half began with the same energy the Privateers brought in the first and a Charles steal led to a Plaisance Jr. dunk as the senior reached double figures for the fifth time this season.
Bryson Robinson’s old-school three-point play and Jahmel Myers’ layup off the Troy Green dime put UNO back in front by double figures 42-31 prior to the first media of the stanza.
Much like previous battles in the brief series, the Wildcats and Privateers went back and forth and ACU cut its deficit to two points at the under-12 media.
Unfortunately, the short-handed Privateers drew two big blows as the loss of Robinson (15:18) and foul trouble for Plaisance Jr. shifted the momentum. What appeared to be a foul to avoid a fast break layup depleted the UNO roster.
With 9:36 to go, BJ Maxwell drained his third triple of the game to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game. The 13-0 run in 90 seconds put the Wildcats up 11.
Plaisance Jr. ended the run in style with another and-one that gave the senior a new career-high in points with 16 points.
Abilene Christian was able to escape its home conference opener with a 68-58 victory.
INSIDE THE BOX
Jaren Lewis was held to four points. Four Wildcats reached double figures, led by Payten Ricks’ 14 points. The Privateers led for 28:31 of the ballgame.
The Privateers host Houston Baptist University at Lakefront Arena Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by visiting UNOPrivateers.com/tickets.
Fans are encouraged to follow @PrivateersMBB on Twitter, @PrivateersMBB on Instagram, like /PrivateersMBB on Facebook and subscribe to the PrivateerAthletics YouTube channel.
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