After a historic victory over Oklahoma State two days prior, the Wildcats fell 59-52 to the SMU Mustangs in the second round of the WNIT Monday night. The loss marks the final game in the team’s transition to Div. 1, as it will be fully eligible to compete in next year’s conference postseason tournament.
In the game against SMU, the Mustangs came out hot from the start, finishing the first half shooting 44 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. The Wildcats on the other hand were cold for most the game in part to SMU’s stifling defense, ranked 12th in the nation, and the fact that their shots just weren’t falling. Before the half, ACU went six of 31 (19.35 percent) from the field and two out of 19 (10.53 percent) on its three-point attempts.
Senior forward Sydney Shelstead was tasked with slowing down SMU’s inside presence, and was able to match it for most of the game with the help of her fellow post players. The combined efforts held the 6’5” Stephanie Collins to just seven points and five rebounds and 6’3” Alicia Froling to seven points and 10 rebounds. Shelstead finished the night with seven points of her own and six boards.
With 3:56 left in the third quarter, the Mustangs took their largest lead of the night after a McKenzie Adams jump shot to bring the score to 46-20. But the Wildcats finished the third on a 10-0 run cutting the deficit heading into the fourth down to 30-46. But even after getting to within single digits, 50-43, after senior Alexis Mason converted from deep, time would be against the Wildcats as 1:12 was all that remained on the clock.
ACU was forced to foul the Mustangs to stop the clock, but SMU would take full advantage of the free-throws it was getting out of it and would keep just far enough ahead so that ACU’s comeback fell short at 59-52.
The Wildcats finished the year at 23-9 overall, making history with their first ever Div. I postseason win. SMU moves to 19-14 on the season and advances to play Indiana on Thursday in the third round of the WNIT.