Despite shooting just 30.2 percent from the field, the women’s basketball team won its fourth straight game with a 72-70 victory over Southeastern Louisiana on Sunday afternoon.
The Wildcats entered the game as the top-ranked team in the conference while SELU came in ranked last in the Southland. Head coach Julie Goodenough said they certainly didn’t play like it.
“I thought they really capitalized on the fact that we were a little thin at the post position,” Goodenough said. “Credit our kids for coming out and showing a lot of character and just settling into our offense.”
After two critical free throws from junior guard Alexis Mason pushed the ACU lead to four with seven seconds remaining, the game looked well in hand. With three seconds left, Mason sent the Lady Lion’s desperation three out of bounds out of bounds with a block that primarily sealed the win, or so ACU fans thought.
On the ensuing inbounds, junior forward Suzzy Dimba was whistled for a foul and Southeastern Louisiana stepped to the line with a chance to cut the lead to two. After making the first, the Lions intentionally missed the second, and secure the rebound as SELU gained back the possession with just under two seconds left.
Similar to the previous inbounds, ACU was called for another dead ball foul and SELU was back at the line with the clock stopped. The Lions again made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second. On the miss, SELU grabbed the offensive rebound again but, fortunately for the Wildcats, was unable to convert as time expired.
“It’s a big time win. You know at the end of the season it’s going to look like every other win, the ones you win by 20, the ones you win by one and two,” Goodenough said.
Junior forward Sydney Shelstead led the way for ACU, contributing her second consecutive double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Dimba also recorded her sixth double-double of the year with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Mason added 17 points and six rebounds.
“Suzzy and Sydney did a tremendous job getting open down on the block,” Goodenough said. “The biggest difference in the game was all the offensive rebounds we gave up.”
After winning eight of its first nine conference games by double digits, four out of ACU’s last five games have been decided by nine points or less. However, with the win, the Wildcats improve to 22-3 overall and 13-1 in Southland Conference play and secure their winningest season in 10 years.
ACU clings to a one-game lead over Central Arkansas (12-2, 22-3) in the Southland rankings with four games left. None of the four teams remaining on the Wildcats schedule have a winning conference record, but Goodenough and her team learned quickly that records mean little on the court.
A conference championship would be the basketball programs first since transitioning to Div. I and would earn them a spot in the women’s NIT at the end of the season.