By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
As of Thursday, the women’s basketball team had won six of its last seven games, had the fourth-best overall record in its division and was two victories away from tying its win total from last season. And exactly how did this happen?
“We’re much more two-dimensional,” Head Coach Wayne Williams said of his team’s balance of post and pe-rimeter games. “When teams try to take away one aspect of our game or the other, we’re successful with changing our style.”
This year’s Wildcats have fought to shake last year’s image of going inside again and again, even if the opponent’s defense disallowed it. Instead, they have been able to take some of the workload off junior centers Melanie Carter, Jackie Vinson and Lynsie Blau, and shift it to guards like freshman Ashley King, sophomore Stephanie Riles and senior Jodi Hellums.
“I feel like we’ve depended too much on the post in the past,” redshirt sophomore forward Meredith Doyle said. “This year our guards have stepped it up and hit the big shots for us.”
King, especially, has helped the Cats out in this way. The Weatherford native, who has the third-highest points per game total (9.5) and the best three-point percentage (42 percent) also has done the little things it takes to win ballgames. Her five three-pointers against Cameron on Jan. 9 helped lift ACU to victory, as did her two clutch free throws with 7 seconds remaining in a 66-65 win over Southwestern Oklahoma on Jan. 11.
“Ashley’s really helped our guard play improve significantly,” Williams said.
The Wildcats, 9-7 overall and 0-1 in the Lone Star Conference South, are still searching for their first divisional win after falling to nationally-ranked Angelo State on Jan. 14, but followed that up with an 83-56 win over non-conference Tarleton State last Thursday.
“It’s kind of a misnomer because when you play the best team in the conference first, it’s not always a gauge of how you’re doing in the conference,” Williams said.
The Wildcats played host to Eastern New Mexico on Thursday and do the same with West Texas A&M 4 p.m. Saturday in Moody Coliseum. The Lady Buffs have done well this season, carrying a 10-3 overall record as of Thursday.
“They’re solid,” Williams said. “Our matchups are going to be really good and our rivalry has always been intense. The bottom line is that it’s our third division game, and we need to get off to a good start. They’re another team we need to play well against in conference.”
“We’re in a good position right now,” she said. “But we want to win this weekend and get another winning streak going. Our most important goal is to win conference, so we need to step our intensity up a notch in these conference games.”