The women’s basketball team will take on the New Orleans Privateers at 4 p.m. Saturday in New Orleans looking for their sixth-straight win.
The game will be the team’s first of three straight away games to finish the season. The Wildcats, who moved to 16-10 overall and 8-7 in the Southland conference with their 68-53 win against Houston Baptist University, should have one of their least competitive battles of the season in their lone game of the year playing against their conference rival from the Big Easy.
ACU’s backcourt has been on a tear lately as Sydney Shelstead, sophomore forward from Mineral Wells, recorded her 10th double-double Wednesday. Suzzy Dimba, sophomore forward from Lubbock, has scored 26 points and pulled down 26 rebounds in her last two games as well.
Out of the 13 Southland conference teams, UNO and the University of the Incarnate Word are both tied for last place. At 2-12 in conference games and just 4-19 for the entire season, New Orleans, who started off the conference season 0-9, has picked up its play as of late. Going 2-3 in their last five games, including a 90-86 win against McNeese State on Feb. 5, the Privateers are showing signs of life and have scored 65 points a game since the beginning of the month compared to 51.4 in conference games in the months before.
A large part of New Orleans’ recent success has been because of their increase in performance.
Junior forward Yasmin Taylor has been one of the conference’s best and most consistent rebounders this season. Taylor averages 7.3 rebounds a game and sits at 12th in the Southland conference. She has increased her rebounds per game from 6.8 to 7.3 this month, which included a 15-rebound performance against Northwestern State last weekend.
Going up against the conference’s second-best scoring team in the Wildcats (70.4), the Privateers, who are last in the conference in scoring with 55.9, and allow a conference-worst 68.3 points per game. They will need their two best scorers, freshmen guard Randi Brown and forward Halie Matthews, to be at their best.
Matthews, who started scoring strong at the beginning of the season before dropping off midway, has warmed up again to improve to 8.9 points per game. Brown, who has reached double digits in each of her last five games, and had a career 30-point performance against Southeastern Louisiana Feb. 19, also has become more of an offensive difference maker for her team.
But none of these specific players should be too much of a struggle for an ACU team that has excelled at limiting the performances of their opponents’ best players. The Wildcats, 5-0 in their last five games, have defeated significantly better teams this season than UNO, regardless of location. Barring injury or major collapse, the ‘Cats should roll out of New Orleans with another Southland conference win.