The Wildcats women’s basketball team captured the Lone Star Conference championship in their season finale game against Texas A&M Kingsville Saturday.
The win, 82-53, put ACU at 21-5 and 16-4 in conference play, tying them with Midwestern State for first place to finish the season. The title is ACU’s ninth in school history and first since the 1998-1999 season.
“I’m so proud of our team and how they’ve performed all season,” head coach Julie Goodenough said.
“We started the season with number seven preseason ranking, so that really fired up our team and gave us a reason to have a great season. Plus, the returners from last year’s squad really wanted to do something special this year and they really have.”
The ‘Cats will enter the LSC tournament as the number two seed and will face off against number seven seed Texas A&M Commerce.
The Wildcats went 2-0 against Commerce winning their first game 81-60 in Abilene, and the second, 75-61, in Commerce. ACU will play the first game of the tournament on Wednesday in Allen at noon.
ACU started off the game hot, as they quickly jumped out to a solid lead.
Senior Kelsey Smith was a main contributor as she had nine of the team’s first fifteen points, including a corner three pointer. She also protected the paint as she had three blocks in the first half.
The Wildcats led 33-16 with 6:15 left in the half, before giving up a small run to the Javelinas. They were able to regain their focus and finish the half strong, leading 39-27.
“They (Kingsville) started off with a small lineup which made it hard to guard on defense, but we were able to give the ball down low to Kelsey and let her go to work,” Goodenough said.
The Wildcats started the second half with their foot on the gas as they continued to score from all over the court. They turned in a 9-3 run to put ACU up 48-30 with 17:25 left behind a three point make and layup by junior Mack Lankford.
The ‘Cats pushed the lead up to twenty, 53-33, after a three point make by freshman Whitney West. The Wildcats led by twenty or more for most of the second half, as they never let go of the lead after claiming it early on in the first.
Defense was a key factor in the win, as the Wildcats held Kingsville to 24.7 percent shooting on the game, and 20 percent from beyond the arc.
Smith led all scorers with 22 points and added nine rebounds. Junior Renata Marquez turned in a near triple-double in the win, with 12 points, a career high 14 rebounds and nine assists.
Lankford also had 12 points on the night, and sophomore Sadie Dickinson was the fourth Wildcat with double digit points as she finished with ten.
“She (Marquez) was absolutely great,” Goodenough said. “She made a real point in rebounding and was stellar on defense. It was a great team win and we look forward to what’s next.”