The Wildcats let an easy win slip away last Saturday as The Eastern New Mexico Zias defeated ACU 81-73, in Portales, NM.
“We didn’t play Wildcat basketball,” senior Kelsey Smith said. “We didn’t defend and we didn’t execute our offense like we should have.”
The loss knocks ACU to third place in the Lone Star Conference, after being in a three way tie for first prior to the game against ENMU. The Wildcats are 15-4, 10-3 in the LSC, while the Zias are now 4-17, 3-10 in the LSC.
“Our lack of intensity really should not have been a surprise though since we went into the game after two very subpar, lackluster days of practices,” Head Coach Julie Goodenough said. “Unfocused practices will not happen again and cannot if we are really serious about making a run for a LSC Championship.”
ACU opened up the second half on a 24-9 run to take the lead, but it was short lived as the Zias fought back. ENMU outscored the Wildcats by 23 points over the last 10:40 of the game, as they finished with a game securing 37-14 run. The Zias have averaged around 50 points per contest this season, but scored 46 on the Wildcats in the second half alone. The 81 points is the most the Wildcats have given up all season so far.
“We lost our composure in the second half by taking quick shots against their full court press, and then didn’t get back to defend in transition,” Goodenough said. “We also had too many defensive lapses where we had our hands down and didn’t pressure their three point shooters.”
The loss was the first for the Lady ‘Cats in nearly a month, as they had won their past eight games in a row. ACU faced off against ENMU earlier this year and defeated them 74-56.
“I think we’ve finally hit that mid-season rut and that hurt our energy and our communication on defense,” Smith said.
The Wildcats were led by junior Mack Lankford, who contributed 24 points on the night.
Freshman Whitney West also had a big night as she added 17 points, 12 of those from beyond the arc. Smith had 12 and junior Renata Marquez finished with 10.
The Wildcats will face off against Texas A&M Commerce (7-10, 5-7 LSC) on the road today. They will then come back to Abilene, where they will take on Tarleton State (14-4, 10-2 LSC) on Saturday.
“I confidently expect our team to respond to this adversity with integrity and get back to work to play like we know we are capable,” Goodenough said.