Top moments
ACU big man Airion Simmons has ice in his veins when the game is on the line. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Top Moments Around the 2021-22 WAC Hoops Season – Part II

The top moments of the 2021-22 season continue. In Part II, we have some epic comeback wins as well as some emotional wins. It’s interesting that one school had both of its teams win games after trailing by double digits late in the second half. We also have our first buzzer-beater, courtesy of Stephen F. Austin. Top moments are always fun.

Earle, ACU Get Hot Late to Overcome Huge Deficit

College basketball can be a game of runs. As we saw on Monday night, Kansas fell behind by double digits in the first half, only to use a big run to get back in the game. The Jayhawks eventually won the national title.

Sure, ACU is not Kansas. And playing New Mexico State on Jan. 15 at the Teague Center was not for the national championship. But, that didn’t stop freshman Bella Earle and the Wildcats from pulling off a massive comeback win.

ACU trailed by 19 points midway through the third quarter. But, Earle and the Wildcats scored 16 of the final 24 points in the quarter to cut the deficit to 11 heading into the fourth. And in the fourth quarter, ACU took its first lead since the first quarter on a Bella Earle layup with 1:15 to play. And the Wildcats went on to win a wild one, 76-73. Epic comebacks are always top moments in the game of basketball.

Vaqueros End Nation’s Longest Home Winning Streak

When a team gets hot, it is a recipe for success. In the case of the UTRGV women’s basketball team, you live by the 3 and die by the 3. Unfortunately, for the 2021-22 regular season champs, UTRGV lived by the 3 in the regular season finale on March 5 in Nacogdoches. UTRGV hit 13 3-pointers en route to a 76-74 win over Stephen F. Austin.

The win snapped SFA’s 38-game home winning streak and kept the Lady Jacks from finishing with a perfect conference record. Sara Bershers and Arianna Sturdivant both hit four 3-pointers while Taylor Muff hit three from deep.

Freshman Comes to the Rescue in Dramatic Fashion

There have been some good battles between Stephen F. Austin and Abilene Christian over the years. And rightfully so. Both teams have had trips to the NCAA Tournament. Both teams have won games in the NCAA Tournament. And both teams have played for championships. Plus there are a lot of connections between the schools. Add in the fact that they have the same colors and it makes it more intriguing. And on Feb. 26 at Johnson Coliseum, it was a freshman who made the play of the game and created one of the top moments of the 2021-22 season.

Day Day Hall took a pass from Jaylin Jackson-Posey. And with multiple defenders guarding him, Hall hit the fadeaway, turnaround jumper to give SFA a 73-71 win over Abilene Christian. It was the 8th straight win for the Jacks who had just beat rival Sam Houston two nights earlier in another one of the top moments of 2021-22. You can see both endings in the tweets below.

Emotional Win to Honor the late Lew Hill

I am so glad UTRGV Associate Athletic Director Jonah Goldberg sent this tweet. Feb. 7 will be a day I remember for the rest of my life. Waking up to the horrible news that Lew Hill had passed in his sleep less than 24 hours after coaching his UTRGV squad in thriller against Texas Southern. It was just so surreal.

And on Feb. 2, on Lew Hill Tribute Night, UTRGV made their former coach proud. Marek Nelson had a career-high 30 points. Justin Johnson and Xavier Johnson each finished with 24 and 22 points, respectively. And the Vaqueros shot 63 percent from the field in the 93-79 win over Lamar.

It’s why this win, one of the few UTRGV had in 2021-22, is one of the top moments in the WAC. To honor a coach who preached peach and love!

ACU Wins Wild Road Game at UTRGV

UTRGV was part of quite a few top moments in the WAC in 2021-22. And on Jan. 26 in Edinburg, one of those top moments occurred. But, in the wrong way for the Vaqueros. Funny thing is, it was probably a worse moment despite winning the game, for ACU. Here is why. ACU forced 27 turnovers, and drew multiple offensive fouls in the contest. UTRGV also had three starters plus its key bench player foul out in the contest. And yet, ACU still trailed by 12 with 1:59 to play.

And when UTRGV guard Justin Johnson fouled out with 1:56 to play, UTRGV was down to just four scholarship players. The Vaqueros actually had to send a walk-on who wasn’t dressed back to the locker room to get in uniform so they could finish with five players.

And even with all that, ACU still needed dramatics to win a road game over a depleted squad. Fortunately, Airion Simmons hit a 3-pointer with nine seconds to play to give ACU the 87-85 win. Talk about one of the top moments on 2021-22. And in some cases, not in a good way.

 

 

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