ACU’s women’s basketball team, led by Mack Lankford, made a quick comeback after trailing UT-Permian Basin for three periods. However, the late rally attempt was not enough for the Wildcats to overcome the Falcons’ 77-67 lead by the final buzzer.
“They were just continually more consistent than we were,” Lankford said. “That’s where it really hurt us.”
The first half was a rough stretch for the Wildcats. After immediately falling behind 8-0, the ‘Cats caught a break when Cecilee Perez banked two free throws. Lankford pitched in a layup, giving ACU a chance at 15-12, but the Falcons responded with a quick rally ending 17-point lead. Kelsey Smith helped to bring the Wildcats within range, scoring 6 out 7 free throw attempts making the score 36-27 just before the half.
ACU returned to the second half, barely managing to close in on UTPB. However, with just over 15 minutes remaining on the clock, Lankford sought to minimize the 12-point deficit. After scoring a 3-pointer, the sophomore nailed 12 more straight points in less than five minutes.
In addition, Hillari Adam shot two 3-pointers, bringing ACU within four points at 53-49. Lankford added back to back 3-pointers leaving the ‘Cats trailing by one with 3:42 to go, followed by a jumper in the paint giving the Wildcats their first lead since tip-off.
ACU’s 63-62 lead unfortunately did not last as UTPB answered back with a 15-4 series of baskets, including several points scored from free-throw attempts. The Falcons made 21 of their 26 shots from behind the free-throw line.
Mack Lankford’s performance Tuesday night led her to receive the Lone Star Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week award for her consistent scoring of at least 30 points in the first two games of the season.
“Mack is definitely a leader on this teams,” said Head Coach Shawna Lavender. “Her efforts don’t stop until the end of the game every time.”
Lankford finished the game with 33 points, her second highest-scoring game. Last season she scored her 35 points against Southeastern Oklahoma State, her career-high. Lankford has scored in the 30’s in several games, including 32 against A&M Commerce and 31 against Eastern New Mexico. Junior Kelsey Smith followed Lankford in overall scoring with 13 points.
“We just keep looking forward,” Lankford said. “When we focus and work hard, everything continues to fall into place.”
The Wildcats resume play on Thursday for its home opener against St. Mary’s at 5:30 p.m.