The ACU women’s basketball team is in the midst of a historic season and in contention for its first ever Southland Conference regular season championship. Despite being plagued by various obstacles, the Wildcats have continued to be the most dominant team in the league.
The latest and one of the more critical setbacks came on Feb. 13 when the team lost its leading rebounder, junior forward Lizzy Dimba to a leg injury. The injury came just three days after the Wildcats clinched their second 20-win season in the last ten years.
“As soon as I came down from getting that rebound my knee went in an awkward direction,” Dimba said. “I knew I tore it and that was the first thing I said when it happened was, ‘I’m almost positive I just tore my ACL.'”
When the official diagnosis came back, it was just as Dimba had expected, she had fully torn her ACL and would require surgery to repair it.
Although this is Dimba’s first time in her career to be sidelined with a season-ending injury, this isn’t the first time an ACL injury has hit close to home. Her twin sister and ACU teammate, junior Suzzy Dimba, experienced this injury when the two played together in high school.
“My sophomore year in high school I actually tore my ACL too,” Suzzy said. “I’ve been there so I was able to tell her what’s going to happen, so she’s not going in blind.”
Lizzy said the injuries are quite similar aside from the timing of when they happened, but Suzzy’s advice and her team’s support have been crucial early on in the rehab process.
“I’ve also had some teammates come by and just be with me seeing that there isn’t much I can do,” Lizzy said. “Also our athletic trainer Jenny Scruggs has been the biggest blessing. She doesn’t get a lot of credit for the work she does, but she has been there every step of the way and is there for me to text when I need anything at all.”
At the time of her injury, Lizzy led the team in rebounding with 7.8 rebounds per game and was one of five double-digit scorers, averaging 10.1 points per game.
As a team the Wildcats are 5-0 since the injury, with rematches against Incarnate Word and Texas A&M Corpus Christi left on the schedule. Head coach Julie Goodenough said the continued success is a testament to the will of this team and the selflessness of Lizzy.
“She immediately responded with, ‘Hey guys ya’ll can do this without me, we’re going to finish what we started,” Goodenough said. “I credit her teammates for being willing to rise up and give us a little bit more than they were with her [Lizzy] here.”
Goodenough said Lizzy’s surgery went well over the weekend and she should be ready to go well before next season begins.
As for her role on the team now, Lizzy knows it has changed greatly, but has willingly stepped into it.
“My role has shifted tremendously,” Lizzy said. “Since I can no longer be out on the court anymore my goals are no longer getting a certain number of rebounds, points, or charges. It’s to be as loud and vocal as I can be from the bench. My goal is to be the biggest cheerleader and make sure my teammates on the bench and the ones that are on the court can hear me at all times.