The Wildcats took on Incarnate Word on Wednesday with a chance to capture the Lone Star Conference season title. Incarnate Word had other ideas as they defended their home court and handed the ‘Cats a painful 68-53 loss.
The loss moves ACU to 20-5 on the year with a 15-4 LSC record while UIW goes to 17-8, 13-6, fourth in the LSC.
“We were missing a lot of intensity and motivation,” Head Coach Julie Goodenough said. “We didn’t execute on either end of the floor like we have. It was disappointing to see the lack of effort with such a big game on the line.”
The loss against Incarnate Word dashed the Wildcats shot at being the sole owners of the LSC title. The Wildcats 15-4 record puts them at a half game behind first place Midwestern State (21-5, 16-4) with one game left in the season.
“It’s disappointing because we already faced them earlier this season and beat them,” Goodenough said. “But Incarnate is a great team who’s had a great season. They are tough to beat, especially on the road.”
The Wildcats went into halftime 36-31 after a tight nit first half. The team came out slow and heavy as they gave up a 22-7 run to start the second. The run pushed Incarnate’s lead up to twenty, 58-38 with 10:30 left.
The 20 point deficit was only the second time this season ACU had trailed by at least 20 points in a game.Â The only other time was on Dec. 8 when they trailed by as many as 24 points in the second half of a 78-60 loss at Tarleton State.
ACU was not able to score whatsoever, as the squad scored a season tying low 53 points and shot 28.6 percent from the field in the second half.
ACU entered the game leading the league in scoring offense (75.5 points per game), free throw percentage (74.2 percent) and 3-point field goals per game (8.8), second in 3-point field goal percentage (33.5 percent).
Wednesday, they hit just 6-23 3-point attempts (26.1 percent), and they made just 11-19 free throw attempts (57.9 percent).
Junior Mack Lankford led the Wildcats in scoring with 11 points (3-10) and junior Renata Marquez added a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore Sadie Dickinson and freshman Kynzie Newman had off nights shooting as they combined for 16 points on 5-22 shooting.
“It was very unlike us to play as poor as we did,” Goodenough said. “I thought with the weekend break we’d come out more energized and focused, but it was just a complete mental break down.”
The Wildcats will play their season finale against Texas A&M Kingsville (5-20, 3-16) at Moody Coliseum on Saturday. With a win, ACU can tie Midwestern for first place and finish the season with a dual LSC championship.