SHERMAN, Texas - After leading by as many as 12 halfway through the second half, the Southwestern men's team fended off Austin College's final push win 59-57 to open SCAC conference play on Friday night.
It took almost five minutes for Southwestern to get going as they were held scoreless through the opening 4:15, but their defense kept them in the game and held AC to only four points in the same span.
The 'Roos pulled ahead by seven, 16-9, with 9:49 to go in the half, but Michael Cantu's layup sparked a run that would last until halftime as the Pirates took a one point lead, 21-20, into the break.
The teams traded points through the opening of the second half before Southwestern steadily built a double-digit lead, 47-35, after Travis Kurtz converted a layup and free throw. Austin College pushed back with 18 points in the next eight minutes while holding SU to seven to pull within one, 54-53.
Southwestern converted on five of the eight free throws down the stretch and forced tough shots and turnovers defensively to close out the game and seal the win.
Cantu and Sean Myers led the Pirates with 13 points each while Kurtz chipped in 12. AC's Alen Michael led all scorers with 16 points.
The win improves Southwestern to 1-4 on the season and opens conference play at 1-0 while Austin College falls to 1-5 and 0-1. SU heads to Shreveport, La. to face Centenary College on Saturday night at 8 p.m.