By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
The women’s basketball team had been hoping to put together another winning streak prior to Saturday’s home game against Lone Star Conference South opponent West Texas A&M, but a late-game breakdown prevented the Wildcats from extending their winning streak to three.
“We expended a lot of energy to get the lead that we had,” Coach Wayne Williams said of the 45-35 advantage the Cats had with 7:35 left to play in the second half. “We just didn’t take care of the ball in the last seven minutes. We didn’t finish what we started.”
Instead, ACU lost narrowly, 57-55, dropping its record to 10-8 overall and 1-2 in the LSC South, where the team stands at fifth place out of eight teams.
“It’s almost harder to lose by a smaller margin than a larger margin,” said junior center Lynsie Blau, who is second on the team in both points per game (9.9) and rebounds per game (7.0). “It’s tough when you can almost taste it, and then it falls out of reach.
“We’re disappointed,” she said. “We were hoping for that win to get us going in conference, but a couple things didn’t go the way we planned, and now we have to start all over.”
Which, she said, won’t be that big of a deal, considering the team’s goal is still ultimately to win the LSC South championship.
“I think it’s definitely still within reach,” Blau said. “I don’t think anybody will go undefeated in conference. It’s very obtainable.”
The first step in doing this begins with ACU’s five-game LSC South road trip, which begins Thursday at Midwest-ern State in Wichita Falls.
“An important thing for us is that we can’t look at this as a five-game road trip,” Williams said. “If we start looking too far down the line, it’ll hurt us.”
Midwestern State is sitting pretty in first place in the South with a 4-0 division record, not to mention a 13-4 overall mark. Its top player is center Jel-Ani Armstrong, who leads her team with 13.6 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game.
“They’re playing well right now,” Williams said of MSU. “They’re basically a whole new team from last season; they have a lot of transfers and freshmen. They run a motion offense and set a lot of screens. They try to wear you down and get good shots.
“We’ve got to play to our strengths and not worry about what they do,” Williams said. “We have to make them adjust to our game and make them figure out how to stop us.”
Williams said the specific factors the Cats will try to use to exploit WTAM include their use of post-perimeter offense, pressing defense and depth. Depth, especially, has been a positive aspect of ACU’s game this season, as 11 Wildcats average at least 10 minutes played per game.
“Winning on the road in conference is going to be really important for us,” Blau said. “If we get these four games, we’ll feel a lot better about ourselves. Then, hopefully we can come back and get the ball rolling again, and make up for past losses.”