All five starters scored in double figures, led by senior Lizzy Dimba with 16 as the Wildcats earned their first ever Div. 1 postseason victory, 66-56 over Oklahoma State in the first round of the WNIT.
ACU led for most of the game, but had to overcome an early 10-point deficit after OSU jumped out to a 13-3 lead just over three minutes into the game, behind six quick points from junior Kaylee Jensen. Jensen, who led the Big-12 in rebounding, finished with 26 points and seven rebounds, but was the only Cowgirl to reach double figures on the night. She also finished with four fouls which was a result of early foul trouble.
Our team responded so well to our defensive game plan tonight,” said head coach Julie Goodenough. “We changed things up a little to adjust to Oklahoma State’s size.”
The Wildcats responded to the early scoring outburst with a 13-2 run to close the first quarter and take a 16-15 lead. Over the next three quarters ACU would not trail, and the women shot over 53 percent from the field in the second half to grow a 28-23 halftime lead to as large as 13 midway through the fourth quarter.
“Team defense was huge,” said senior Alexis Mason. “They were bigger than us and that had been an emphasized in practice. We have to be the best defensive team on the court, and I think we locked in and gave our best on the defensive end which allowed our offense to come through.”
A key moment in the first half happened when Mason hit her first shot of the game as time expired in the second quarter to give ACU a five-point cushion after two quarters. Mason was one of five Wildcat starters to hit double figures, recording 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
After ACU grew its lead to eight heading into the fourth quarter, OSU was unable to bring it any closer as the women’s late-game experience shined. The 66-56 win over the Cowgirls marks the first time a team has traveled to Gallagher-Iba arena for a WNIT game and won. OSU was previously 11-0.
“Has to be the biggest win in school history,” Goodenough said. “The future is bright for this program as we keep building a culture that strives for excellence for God’s glory.”
Seniors Sydney Shelstead and Suzzy Dimba contributed 10 points and 12 points respectively, and Shelstead finished one rebound short of a double-double with nine. Freshman Breanna Wright rounded out the stellar performance by the starters as she played the entire game and added 11 points, six of which were crucial in the early-game run to gain the lead initially.
“This is the first division one post season win ever, as far as the team goes, it’s huge,” Mason said. “This has been a goal of ours since June. We didn’t just want to get to the tournament but we wanted to win in the tournament.”
The Wildcats will now gear up for Southern Methodist University on Monday, who defeated Louisiana Tech 75-70 in overtime of its first round match up.