Despite a late run that cut their lead to three points with 5:33 to play, the Wildcats earned their third straight win with a 71-65 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The win came just three days after junior Lizzy Dimba sustained a season ending injury during Sunday’s practice. Dimba led the team in rebounding, averaging 7.8 rebounds per game along with 10.1 points and 1.7 steals per contest, and could still receive all-conference honors at the end of the season.
“It was a real blow to our team to lose Lizzy this week,” head coach Julie Goodenough said. “I think when the game started it was obvious that we were missing a component that had been a real source of stability for us this year. So our team was a little bit out of sync.”
ACU took the lead from the get go and never trailed in the match up, as the built a lead as big as 15 points in the first quarter. After a late first quarter run and an early second quarter push, the Islanders trimmed the lead to 30-24.
The Wildcats responded with their own run, including a buzzer-beating layup by junior Sydney Shelstead, to take a 44-30 halftime lead. Shelstead finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in a full 40 minutes of work.
“We really had a great first half, executing, getting shots we wanted, we went into the locker room with all the momentum,” Goodenough said.
At the start of the second half it looked like ACU was poised to pull away, but after the lead grew to 16, the Islanders quickly cut it in half to trail 55-47 entering the fourth quarter.
Although the Islanders would outscore ACU for the second consecutive quarter, the Wildcats were able to stave off the desperate comeback attempt. Junior Alexis Mason iced the game with two free throws, as she finished with 19 points and five rebounds on a night where she shot an impressive 58.3 percent from the field.
“We knew [Texas A&M ] Corpus would continue attacking and they would probably go on some runs,” Goodenough said. “So they really continued to challenge us defensively.”
Junior forward Suzzy Dimba turned in a game-high 25 points and eight rebounds to pace the Wildcat offense, while senior guard Whitney West added 11 points and 3-5 shooting from behind the arc. West continues to close in on the school’s all-time record for three-point field goals made with just five games remaining.
Next on the Wildcat’s schedule is a rematch against Southeastern Louisiana Sunday. The game is also a rematch of their ESPN3 battle from a year ago, in which ACU also came out on top 83-65.