By Michael Freeman, Assistant Sports Editor
After each timeout huddle during a game, the players and coaches of the women’s basketball team shout the word, “Together!” And the Wildcats were effectively playing together Tuesday as they handily defeated the Eastern New Mexico Zias 91-61 in Moody Coliseum.
The win pushes ACU to 8-8 overall and 2-1 in Lone Star Conference South Divisional play. Eastern New Mexico, meanwhile, falls to 3-13 overall and 0-3 in the conference.
“The difference was the intensity we started the game with,” head coach Shawna Lavender said. “The energy we came out with was something we haven’t done in a long time.”
Four Wildcats scored in double figures with forward Ashlee Barr leading the way with 14 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Forward Jody Meyer finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, while center Audrey Maxwell and forward Kristee Davidson ended the game with 12 and 11 points respectively. Guard Kathryn Kundmueller almost recorded a nine points and 11 assists.
“We had a lot of team ball,” Barr said. “Everyone was in it for each other. It’s about the team, not individuals.”
The Wildcats dominated every category against Eastern New Mexico. ACU shot a sizzling 52.2 percent from the field, while the Zias struggled to hit 30.3 percent of their shots. The Wildcats also snatched a total of 50 rebounds to the Zias’ 37. ACU dished out twice as many assists as Eastern New Mexico with 26 to the Zias’ 13.
But one of the most overpowering statistics was points in the paint. The Wildcats aggressively took the ball to the basket and scored 48 of their 91 points in the paint, while the Zias only racked up 14 points from close range.
“The biggest thing was that we played good team basketball,” Lavender said. “We were focused. We were patient, distributed the ball well and got good shots.”
ACU began the game on fire and jumped out to an 11-3 advantage within the first two and a half minutes. By the 14-minute mark in the first half, that lead had swelled to 22-7. The Wildcats never took their feet off the pedal as they went into halftime with a commanding 50-29 lead.
ACU came out of the break with no intentions of slowing down as the Wildcats went on a 19-4 run during the first six minutes of the second half. At the 6:55 mark, the Wildcats reached their largest lead of the game – 43 points – thanks to a lay-up by Jody Meyer. ACU went on to coast to a convincing 91-61 victory.
“It’s going to help us out,” Barr said of the win. “If we go out there and put our minds to it, we can do anything.”
The Wildcats will try to carry their momentum from Tuesday’s win with them to Wichita Falls as they take on Midwestern State. Midwestern State is 7-8 overall with a 1-1 conference record.
“Midwestern is always tough there,” Lavender said. “When you go on the road, you look for any edge you can get. Going in with a lot of confidence and focus like we had tonight, hopefully we can carry that into Saturday’s game on the road.”