By Brian Roe, Sports Writer
ACU opened Lone Star Conference South Division play Tuesday night with a 71-63 loss to the 13th-ranked Rambelles of Angelo State.
Natalja Tsurbakova scored 26 points and Sharon Ballengerto added 18 to lead the visiting Belles over the Wildcats.
Senior center Melanie Carter recorded a double-double, scoring 20 points and 10 re-bounds, while sophomore guard Ashley King chipped in 12 points and six assists for ACU.
The Wildcats led by 12 points with five minutes remaining in the first half before capitulating to the Belles in the first five minutes of the second half. Angelo State nailed the coffin by outscoring ACU 18-4 in the initial five minutes of that second half, proving what a difference five minutes can make.
“Those five minutes were the difference in the game,” said head coach Shawna Lavender. “Take away those five minutes and we probably win the game. We pretty much outplayed them the rest of the game, but they came out ready to play in the second half and we didn’t.
“We played great defense for about 35 minutes of the game, but it was those five minutes at the beginning of the second half that just killed us.”
The Wildcats charged late in the game, trimming the lead to 59-55 with a shade over five minutes left in the game. Reserves Stephanie Riles and Meredith Doyle sparked ACU during the comeback. Riles finished with eight points and three rebounds, while Doyle had five points and seven rebounds.
However, Angelo State remained strong and finished off the Wildcats by going on an 8-2 run
“There were a lot of positives from this game like Melanie played a good game and Leah Wilson played great defense,” Lavender said. “We knew going in that it would be a tough game. We responded well but against a good team like that you can’t afford to have a lapse like that.”
ACU will face another strong team on Saturday in Moody Coliseum against Northeastern State at 2 p.m. The game will be the third straight home game for the Wildcats, who did not play their first home game until after the new year.