The ACU women’s basketball team competed in the Plaza Lights Classic in Kansas City, Missouri, last weekend.
In the tournament, which was hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the then 3-1 Wildcats were able to defeat George Mason University of Fairfax, Virginia, 88-86 on Friday and UMKC, 80-55, on Saturday.
In its first game, the team was carried by its starters, who were responsible for 86 of the team’s 88 points. The only points coming off the bench were from freshman guard Alyssa Echols with 3:12 left in the game. The team was able to break a late-game tie with the Patriots to grab a close two-point victory on a jumper by junior Whitney West with six seconds left on the clock.
“George Mason is a really good, high-scoring team,” said Julie Goodenough, head coach. “We felt like we could score right up with them and that the game could very well come down to who could get stops down the stretch, and sure enough, that’s what happened. It’s very significant to beat a team of this caliber on the road.”
The team went up by double digits six times in the game, including a game-high 15-point lead with 14:07 left and an 11-point lead with 4:22 left in the game before George Mason went on a 7-0 run in just under a minute to bring the Wildcats’ lead to four.
“We want to play uptempo and not turn down open three-pointers and layups, and down the stretch, that’s what we were shooting and they just weren’t falling,” Goodenough said. “George Mason turned their speed up a notch and started beating us down the floor in transition to cut our lead. We need more work on managing the clock when we have a big lead, and that is my responsibility to help them realize when to be more patient.”
In the second game, the Wildcats were able to relax significantly more, putting on a clinic against the tournament host Kangaroos, especially in the first half, shooting 17-39 from the floor and 6-17 from behind the arc in the first half, grabbing a two-point lead with 16:44 left in the first half, which was a lead they would never relinquish.
“We had such great focus on scoring in the first half (on Saturday),” Goodenough said. “We are tough to beat with that kind of execution. We learned a lot about ourselves this weekend and what we can accomplish with great focus and teamwork.”
The team, which has only played one game away so far this season – a tough 70-57 loss to University of Texas at San Antonio on Nov. 19 – is now 2-1 on the road to go along with their 3-0 record at home.
“We had so many families who followed us to the tourney that we actually had about as many fans as UMKC and more than George Mason,” Goodenough said. “Our players shot so well in their small gym because there was no depth perception issues on shots. The players played with poise and confidence even though we were playing far away from Moody.”
The team will try to increase its season record to 5-1 as they head to Lubbock to take on the Texas Tech University Red Raiders at 11 a.m Dec. 3.
“Our team did a lot of good things (last) weekend and got three big wins in a week,” Goodenough said, referring to their 79-72 win over Eastern Washington University Nov. 24. “Our challenge is to keep improving and growing together as a team.”