The women’s basketball team put an exclamation point on their regular season Saturday afternoon when they defeated Texas A&M Corpus Christi 63-52 to clinch the outright regular season Southland Conference championship.
The Wildcats jumped out in front early and took a 9-0 lead just two minutes into the game and never trailed. Junior guard Alexis Mason capped off the run with a three-pointer, but the Islanders settled in and cut the lead to 21-15 at the end of the quarter.
Mason led all scorers with 20 points and she also added seven rebounds and five assists to continue her claim to the conference player of the year award.
Although ACU only outscored the Islanders by three points over the next three quarters, the Wildcats built a lead as big as 17 early in the third quarter thanks to a sizable advantage in the turnover battle. ACU produced 31 points off 21 turnovers, while TAMCC mustered only 16 despite 19 Wildcat miscues.
The Islanders did battle back to a 48-42 deficit with 9:09 left in the fourth, but another three from Mason and a layup from junior forward Sydney Shelstead pushed the lead to 13 with 3:41 to play and helped secure the victory.
Shelstead finished right behind Mason with 19 points and added eight rebounds and three blocks. Shelstead also became the fourth member of this year’s squad to score 1000 career points, joining Mason, junior Suzzy Dimba and senior Whitney West.
Dimba earned her 1000th point in Wednesday’s game against Incarnate Word, while Mason and West eclipsed the mark earlier this season. West also became the first Wildcat in any sport to win a title in the Lone Star Conference and the Southland Conference.
This was also Dimba’s second straight game with seven steals to go along with 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Senior guard Paris Webb contributed three points and two assists in her final game in Moody Coliseum.
The Wildcats shot 34.8 percent from deep in the win, while holding the conference’s second best three-point shooting team to just 2-18 from behind the arc.
The win was ACU’s 26th of the season, as they posted a regular season mark of 26-3 overall and 17-1 in conference play. The 26 victories are the most since 1997-98 when the Wildcats also won 26 games under Wayne Williams. This year’s winning percentage of .893 currently ranks second in school history to the 1995-96 team that went 31-2 (.939).
After cutting down the nets on Saturday evening, the Wildcats will now rest up for a full week before they head to the basketball program’s first ever NIT. The Women’s NIT selection committee will finalize the bracket on March 14 after all conference tournaments are finished.