The women’s basketball team extended their win streak to ten games on Saturday night with a 85-70 victory over perennial Southland Conference powerhouse Stephen F. Austin. The winning streak is the longest in program history since the 1997-1998 season.
Although the Wildcats trailed 60-59 with just under nine minutes left in the fourth, juniors Alexis Mason and Sydney Shelstead poured in 12 and eight points respectively, as they fueled a 26-10 ACU run the final 8:30 of regulation.
“I am really amazed by our players,” head coach Julie Goodenough said. “They have been faced with lots of challenges especially on the road this season. Tonight was no exception. They are tough young ladies who stick together and believe in each other especially in the face of adversity.”
Mason finished with 21 points and four assists, while Shelstead contributed a game-high 22 points, four rebounds and two steals.
Mason and Shelstead also combined to shoot 17 free throws, which equaled SFA’s total free throw output. As a team the Wildcats shot 23-for-35 from the charity stripe.
“Being able to make our free throws late in the third quarter and in the fourth allowed us to pull away from SFA,” Shelstead said. “The fouls they committed and the free throws we made gave us momentum to finish the game strong.”
ACU also controlled the turnover battle, generating 12 steals and 17 assists to just 15 turnovers. Meanwhile the Ladyjacks struggled to hang onto the ball committing 26 turnovers to just 10 steals and 12 assists.
“Committing less turnovers than the other team is always a key to win, and a key to beat SFA was to value the ball and be strong with the ball,” Shelstead said. “I think we did this well, especially in the second half. Less turnovers means we have more chances to score and that helped us in the fourth quarter.”
A year ago, it was SFA pulling through late, when they stole away a 71-69 overtime win in Moody Coliseum. But with five starters back from last year, the Wildcats would not be a late-game victim again.
“Our seniors and juniors have really matured since last season and are doing a great job keeping their composure throughout the course of this tough schedule,” Goodenough said.
With the win the Wildcats move to 5-0 in conference play and 14-2 overall. ACU will most likely move past 21st in the upcoming mid-major top 25 poll. The team will get a short break before playing their second game of a three-game road trip against Sam Houston State Jan. 25.