At the most powerful moment of his college career, Abilene Christian’s junior striker was perfect with two free throws at a point where he had problems in the past.
When he made one last pass in midfield Desperation picked up from Texas, Pleasant and his teammates broke out in a celebration that nearly spilled over into the stands.
Another double-digit starting number will be given in the NCAA tournament at the expense of the flagship school in Abilene Christian’s home state.
“We just beat the University of Texas. Little old Abilene Christian in West Texas developed a head-to-toe program with the University of Texas and it’s an incredible story, ”said Wildcats trainer Joe Golding. « That’s what March is about. »
Abilene Christian and his hectic, devastating defense brought coach Shaka Smart and the Longhorns out of the NCAA tournament again in the first round when the Wildcats with the 14th seed on Saturday night Texas 53-52 stunned with the number 3.
Pleasant, a 58.8% foul shooter of the season, scored two hits off the line with two seconds to go, and the Wildcats beat their rivals in the first inter-school meeting .
Abilene Christian (24-4) was a fourth surprise in a first round that was marked by two years of excitement. She was the fourth team ranked 13th or less to reach the round of 32 in that NCAA tournament, joining Oral Roberts in 15th and No. 13 seed Ohio and North Texas.
“We needed March Madness, man. We needed some kind of normalcy for our country, ”said Golding. “We needed people to fill in parentheses. We needed people to cheer the underdog. “
The purple-clad fans cheered the Wildcats a lot as they gave the bigger, more talented Longhorns all sorts of headaches and got just enough push to claim their first NCAA tournament victory on their second appearance.
Pleasant finished the race with 11 points, as did Coryon Mason for the Wildcats. Abilene Christian was blown away by Kentucky two years ago when she made his first trip to the NCAAs.
« I felt like two years ago we were happy to be there for the first time, » said Pleasant. « Then we are ready to face another challenge, not only to be here but to compete and get some wins. »
Andrew Jones scored 13 points for Texas (19-8) and was almost that Hero. Jones hit two free throws 56 seconds ahead and his 3-pointer 14 seconds ahead put the Longhorns 52-51 ahead.
ACU still had a chance. Damien Daniels drove to the basket, but his shot was blocked by Kai Jones. Pleasant was the first to get his hands on the rebound, and Matt Coleman III was called for a foul that put Smart on his knees on the sideline.
« It was a loose ball. We both chose it . He got to the ball first and he threw it up and they called a foul on me. The referee called it a foul, so it must have been a foul, « said Coleman.
After a time-out, Pleasant calmly hit both free throws. Then he intercepted a long pass from Texas, turning it into the 23rd turnover of the game Longhorns and sparked a wild celebration that ran all the way from the square.
Pleasant waved his arms at the crowd, told fans to make some noise, and put his hand to his ear before speaking Other players tended to have ACU supporters in the stands at Lucas Oil Stadium who were definitely not socially distant during the celebration.
« I imagined the free throws before I shot them, » said Pleasant. « I was just trying to put the rim in, just lock myself in and block out the noise. »
There were heroes for the wildcats everywhere. Daniels, all 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds, missed his first eight attempts to shoot , however, muscled through a fou l to score 3:42 on a trip. The three-point game put the Wildcats 50-47 ahead. Reggie Miller took one of two free throws to increase the lead to four.
Texas went almost four minutes without scoring two free throws by Jones, 56 seconds ahead – fouls that needed a break to drain the blood
Miller made sales at ACU’s next property, and Jones’ 3 seemed like a perfect March moment after the early career Texas junior missed out on time after being diagnosed with leukemia. </ Instead, the Longhorns are sent home with their third exit on the first lap under Smart, which will only add to the heat of his standing in Austin.
« Lots of tears in the locker room right now, » said Smart. « A lot of people are very upset about the end of the game, the fact that we have to go home now. Really disappointed, everyone is. »
Texas rolled into the NCAA tournament after doing it for the first time in school history Big 12 tournament. The Longhorns had won a total of five in a row and eight out of ten in a row after a slump in the midseason.
It was uglier, physical basketball, exactly the formula for the Wildcats to create the surprise. They had the seventh best goal defense in the country this season, giving up just 60 points per game and leading the nation in forcing sales. They suppressed Nicholls State 79-45 in the title game of the Southland Conference.
Texas was 23 points below its season average. The 23 sales were the highest for the program in eight years, and the Longhorns made 27 fewer shots than the ACU.
« It just doesn’t feel real. I feel like I’m trying to wake up from a bad dream » said Coleman.
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