By Michael Freeman, Assistant Sports Editor
The Wildcats picked up their second straight victory Saturday after a close 67-63 battle on the road against Texas A&M-Kingsville. With the win, ACU improves to 10-9 overall and 4-2 in the Lone Star Conference South Division, while the Lady Javelinas drop to 5-14 on the season and 1-5 in conference play.
“Kingsville played great,” said head coach Shawna Lavender. “I thought they played really hard. A couple of their kids probably played the best games they’d had all year.”
Lady Javelina forward LaKeisha Jones led all players with 27 points, but ACU countered her performance with three Wildcats scoring in double-figures. Guard Alex Guiton led the Wildcats with 23 points, while center Audrey Maxwell recorded her seventh double-double of the season as she ended the game with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Forward Kristee Davidson, who was named the LSC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, finished with 17 points, three rebounds and three steals. But even with ACU’s high scorers, the game remained tight up until the last minute.
“In the first half, we didn’t play with a lot of intensity. We played pretty flat,” Lavender said. “In the second half, we played much better and just really battled. It showed a lot of character for our team.”
Texas A&M-Kingsville held a 41-31 advantage with 15:06 left in the game, but ACU fought to cut the 10-point lead down. By the 10:47 mark, the Wildcats had regained the lead 46-44. However, ACU was unable to run away with the game as both teams went back and forth until 47 seconds left in the game. Maxwell converted a three-point play as she hit a layup and
free throw to break the 61-61 tie. But the Lady Javelinas
responded with 31 seconds to go as center Lana Toki hit a layup to cut the Wildcat lead to one point. Guiton put the game on ice as she buried three free throws in the final 14 seconds to give ACU a 67-63 win.
The Wildcats’ next challenge comes Thursday when No. 12 West Texas A&M comes to town. The Lady Buffs have a 16-3 overall record with a perfect 6-0 conference record.
“Playing WT, the girls won’t have any trouble getting up for the game,” Lavender said. “I feel like we really do play our best basketball against good teams. In that aspect, I’m not worried about our girls’ intensity and being ready for the game. The biggest thing is whether or not we can execute.”
West Texas A&M has won 10 games in a row, however, some of their recent victories have been close. On Jan. 26, the Lady Buffs barely beat Tarleton State, a team ACU defeated by 17
points three days later, on a last-second 3-pointer. And on Jan. 10, West Texas A&M beat Southwestern Oklahoma State 68-61. The Wildcats took down the same team 73-60 a week prior.
“They’re very beatable,” Lavender said. “If we play our game and attack, I think we’ll be OK. The biggest thing is that you just can’t back down from them.”
The Wildcats have not backed down from their rivals recently. ACU has won eight of its last 11 games. And the Wildcats’ current two-game winning streak is their longest since they won four in a row from Dec. 21 through Jan. 7.
“Hopefully, this is the right time for us to start playing well,” Lavender said. “And hopefully, we can continue that on Thursday.”