Savion Flagg
Airion Simmons and ACU held off Utah Valley to advance to the WAC quarterfinals and a rematch with Stephen F. Austin on Thursday. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Rapid Recap: Flagg, Bearkats Start Fast to Advance, ACU Bigs Shoot Wildcats to Win

Savion Flagg is arguably the best player in the Western Athletic Conference. The Texas A&M transfer has scored in double figures in all but one game this season. And in his first taste of WAC Vegas, Flagg came out on fire. In a matter of 90 seconds, Flagg hit three straight 3-pointers to put Sam Houston up 12-3 and Wednesday’s first round game was basically over.

Javon Grant came in and scored six points over a two-minute span to push the lead to 15 midway through the first half. And from there, Sam Houston cruised to a 65-35 win over California Baptist at the Orleans Arena.

Flagg finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Grant had 12 points off the bench on 4-5 shooting.

“When we hit shots, we are pretty tough to beat,” Sam Houston head coach Jason Hooten said.

And that was true. What else was true was the fact that California Baptist could not hit water if it fell out of a boat. Ty Rowell knocked down a 3-pointer on CBU’s second possession. But, the lid on the rim got really tight for the Lancers who missed 12 straight 3-point attempts. And the quick sand just continued to get worse throughout the game. CBU shot just 24.5 percent from the field. All this while Sam Houston knocked down 11 3-pointers. That is one less 3-pointer than CBU hit field goals (12) for the entire game.

Overall, CBU was 3-26 from 3-point land in one of the worst shooting games in program history.

WAC Freshman of the Year Taran Armstrong finished with a team-high 11 points.

Sam Houston advances to face 4-seed Grand Canyon on Thursday night at the Orleans Arena. Both teams split the regular season series.

Simmons, Cameron Help ACU Survive and Advance

There were times throughout the first half of Wednesday night’s first round game where Utah Valley looked like it was going to run away from Abilene Christian. But, Tobias Cameron single-handedly kept the Wildcats in the game throughout the first half. Cameron had 11 first-half points and knocked down a big shot every time Utah Valley extended its lead. It kept the Wildcats within striking distance.

Cameron’s 3-pointer with just over 12 minutes to play gave ACU its first lead of the game.

And down the stretch, Airion Simmons took over. Simmons scored 16 of his team-high 19 points in the second half as ACU held off Utah Valley, 82-74 to survive and advance.

In an eerily similar game to the conference opener in Orem in December, it was the ACU bigs who made the difference. Cameron Steele and Airion Simmons were a combined 6-14 from 3-point land when the Wildcats beat Utah Valley on Dec. 30. And on Wednesday night, Simmons and Steele were 7-11 from 3-point land and had a combined 32 points. Tobias Cameron also had 17 points for ACU.

Abilene Christian also forced 21 turnovers and had 24 points off those turnovers.

Fardaws Aimaq finished with 20 points and six rebounds. Four other Wolverines were in double figures. Le’Tre Darthard had 13 points while Connor Harding and Blaze Nield each finished with 12 points. And in his second game all season, Trey Woodbury finished with 10 points.

ACU advances to take on 3-seed Stephen F. Austin on Thursday night at the Orleans Arena. The Jacks beat the Wildcats on Feb. 26 in Nacogdoches on a Day-Day Hall buzzer-beater.

 

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