A last-second shot by Mack Lankford fell just short for the Wildcats as time expired in the Cats’ bid for their first win of the season against St. Mary’s Tuesday night, falling 50-49 in a non-conference nail-biter in San Antonio.
In a back-and-forth game, Lankford, who had 21 points and seven rebounds, stole the ball from a St. Mary’s player and had a fast break opportunity and chance to win the game, but her shot was off the mark as the final buzzer sounded.
Sophomore Cecilee Perez knocked down a jumper with 2:25 left, tying the game at 48. Kelsey Smith then hit one of two free throws to give ACU a one-point lead with just over a minute to play.Â But a turnover and foul by Renata Marquez sent St. Mary’s Nicole James to the charity stripe, where she sank both shots and secured the victory for the Lady Rattlers.
Throughout the game the score changed with nearly every possession. Both teams led by seven in the first half, but a fast-paced second half saw both teams trail by no more than four points.
“That was definitely a fun game to be a part of. There was never a dull moment, and we gave it our best shot in the effort. I felt like we played really well in the second half,” Lankford said.
St. Mary’s led 30-28 at half time, but the Wildcats outscored the Lady Rattlers 21-20 in the second half, showing the resiliency they have displayed all season.
“That’s one thing I love about our girls, no matter the score, they are always competing and leaving it all on the court. They never let up, and that’s something I can’t coach,” head coach Shawna Lavender said.
The Wildcats went on a 11-2 run in the second half over a five-minute period, turning a four-point deficit into a four-point lead.
Turnovers played an integral role in the game once again, as the Wildcats (0-4) committed 25 turnovers in the effort, and are averaging 29 per game, something that Lavender says is essential to cut down in order to win close games.
“We’ve got to cut down on our turnovers. We had a shot to win the game at the buzzer, but we wouldn’t have been in that position had we not committed 25 turnovers,” Lavender said.
Free-throw shooting has also plagued the Wildcats, as they are shooting 64 percent as a team from the charity stripe this year.
“Fundamentals are the name of the game. Making free throws, not committing turnovers, and taking advantage of opportunities are all areas teams need to excel in in order to be successful. We need to be more fundamentally sound,” said Lavender.
ACU will host Texas Woman’s (5-1), who is riding a five-game winning-streak, on Thursday as they open Lone Star Conference play at 5:30 pm in Moody Coliseum.