Abilene Christian beats UIW 69-59 in regular-season finale

Abilene Christian kept its Southland Conference playoff hopes alive Saturday with a 69-59 victory over the Incarnate Word Cardinals.

The Wildcats held UIW to 27 percent shooting in the second half in rallying from a four-point halftime deficit.

Center Jalone Friday led Abilene Christian with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Tevin Foster also scored 17 for ACU.

Forward Charles Brown III paced UIW with 12 points and 7 rebounds.

Trailing by nine points, Incarnate Word rallied Saturday into a 37-33 halftime lead over Abilene Christian in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Charles Brown III hit two baskets, followed by a driving layup from Augustine Ene.

Finally, Sam Burmeister drained a three pointer at the buzzer (see video above) to lift the Cardinals into a four-point lead at the break.

The game was played in front of an announced crowd of 1,256 at UIW’s Convocation Center.

Central Arkansas hands UIW its sixth straight loss

Senior Jordan Howard lived up to his reputation as one of the nation’s top scorers Wednesday night by pouring in a career-high 41 points in a 92-76 home victory for Central Arkansas over slumping Incarnate Word.

Howard, who ranks fifth in NCAA Division I in scoring, hit 11 of 22 from the floor, 4 of 9 on three-pointers, and 15 of 17 at the free throw line for Central Arkansas (9-9, 3-2).

Jordan Howard is the older brother of Marquette sophomore Markus Howard, who scored an NCAA season-best 52 points in an overtime victory at Providence last week.

Redshirt freshman Christian Peevy and junior Charles Brown III scored 24 points apiece for the Cardinals (5-9, 0-4), who lost their sixth straight game.

Trailing by 23 points at intermission, UIW out-scored Central Arkansas 25-9 in the first seven minutes of the second half to pull within 62-55.

But the Cardinals couldn’t sustain the run and got hit with an 18-7 run from the Bears to fall behind by 15, effectively putting the game out of reach.

UIW plays next on Saturday at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. on ESPN3.

Reasons to believe in the Incarnate Word Cardinals

It’s back to the film room for UIW coaches a day after an 85-74 home loss to the Sam Houston State Bearkats.

Clearly, the Cardinals will need to figure some things out before this week’s Southland Conference road trip to Central Arkansas and Stephen F. Austin.

Yes, UIW has lost five in a row. And, yes, senior point guard Jalin Hart says he expects to be out two weeks getting some academic issues resolved.

But that doesn’t mean the Cardinals (5-8, 0-3 SLC) can’t get some momentum going during a stretch of four-of-five games on the road over the next three weeks.

Here are a few reasons to hold out hope for the Cardinals in their quest to reach the SLC tournament.

No. 1, power forward Charles Brown III (jersey No. 13 in your program) is playing well. See video below.

As mentioned, UIW faces a tough stretch in the schedule — at Central Arkansas and at Stephen F. Austin. Then home against Lamar and back on the road again to New Orleans and Houston Baptist.

But the presence of Brown on the floor may command a double team, even on the road, if he can keep hitting shots like this:

Another intriguing talent at UIW is redshirt freshman Christian Peevy.

In the second half against Sam Houston when the Bearkats made their big run, Peevy seemed to lose some confidence, not unusual for a young player.

But in the first half he showed some grit on the defensive end, taking a charge, and then displayed nice touch on a mid-range jumper.

See below:

Senior Sam Burmeister, the coach’s son, played a solid all-around game against the Bearkats, scoring 16 off the bench on 6 of 10 shooting.

Burmeister is a tenacious competitor and can hurt an opposing team with his long-range accuracy.

We have the evidence:

With Hart out of the lineup, Cody Graham will start. And, if you missed it, that was Graham getting into the paint and kicking out a pass to Burmeister in the video clip above.

Other players will need to step up. Forward Simi Socks didn’t seem comfortable in the offense against the Bearkats. Socks can score and is just in a funk right now.

I also think 7-foot Konstantin Kulikov will be OK. But Kulikov played only one minute against Sam Houston. Coaches just seemed hesitant to put him on the floor.

A key to any long-range aspirations for the Cardinals is true freshman Keaton Hervey, who has been erratic, while also showing flashes of talent.

Here’s a clip of Hervey, dunking in the first half:

Of course, after Hervey’s dunk, UIW coaches took him off the floor because of some sort of strained muscle.

Which, when you think about it, is the story of the Cardinals’ season thus far.