Wednesday night’s match up against long-time rival Incarnate Word was bittersweet for the four Wildcat seniors and head coach Julie Goodenough.
While the team earned its 15th conference win of the season with a 68-43 victory over the Cardinals and kept pace with conference leader Central Arkansas, it marked the last time seniors Suzzy and Lizzy Dimba, Alexis Mason and Sydney Shelstead would take the floor as Wildcats in Moody.
The match up was closely contested through the first two quarters, with ACU leading 25-22 at the half. But the game was broken open in the third when the Wildcats outscored UIW 26-12, taking a 52-34 advantage to the fourth.
Fittingly enough it would be the seniors, who have carried this program through the Div. 1 transition, that carried the team in this game and gave the fans and themselves a game to remember.
Senior Suzzy Dimba said the team just had to refocus at the half in order to gain the advantage for the last two quarters.
“We just knew that their defense was surrounded by double-teaming our post players, so we had to make sure we relocated on the perimeter,” Dimba said. “And the post players did a good job of getting the ball back out when they were double-teamed.”
Dimba was the lone senior not to reach double digit rebounds, but still brought down nine and was the leading scorer with 17.
Senior Sydney Shelstead led the way on both sides of the ball with a monsterous 23-rebound game and adding 16 points. Seniors Alexis Mason and Lizzy Dimba added to the Wildcats’ 67-32 rebounding advatage with 10 and 15 respectively. Dimba also added 15 points to join Shelstead in the double-double department.
The win was the seniors 82nd as group, but Lizzy Dimba said tonight’s win was a night she’ll won’t forget.
“It was a great crowd and we came out with a win and we just gave them something to be proud of,” Dimba said.
Head coach Julie Goodenough said the four seniors did what they do best.
“They’ve done a good job complementing one another,” Goodenough said. They’re a really hard group of players to defend when they have their game faces on.”
ACU will take on Houston Baptist in search of at least a share of the Southland Conference title for the second straight season.
“This week has been championship week,” Goodenough said. “We have two games we need to win, Incarnate Word was like the semifinal for us, and we had to take care of business. The final for us is on Saturday.”
The Wildcats have not seen HBU yet this season, a team that enters Saturday 11th in the conference at 4-13, but boasts a rebounding presence in Taylor Kollmorgen, who averages 7.1 rebounds per game. ACU is 5-0 against HBU since moving to the Southland Conference in 2013.