After receiving the fourth seed, ACU defied odds to win the Southland conference championship Sunday against TXAM-CC 69-68 to clinch their first berth in the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats led by as much as 24 points with seven minutes left in the third quarter, but the Islanders answered back giving ACU a run for their money.
With just 1:57 left to play, TXAM-CC had tied the game at 64 apiece, but a bucket by junior center Lexi Ducat and clutch free throws by junior guard Breanna Wright helped ACU pull away.
Wright led the team with 16 points, seven assists and seven rebounds to cap off impressive tournament play which crowned her as the tournament MVP. “We knew as a team this is where we wanted to be, and we weren’t going to let anyone take that from us. We showed a lot of grit and toughness and never stopped believing we could do it. It feels amazing. We’re going to take tonight to celebrate for sure.”
ACU shot 47 percent on the day and 11-27 from three. It capped off an explosive scoring weekend where the Wildcats broke a conference tournament record on Thursday against Central Arkansas for the most made three-pointers in a game.
Junior forward Dominique Golightly finished off the day with 15 points and seven rebounds shooting 4-11 behind the arc.
Following the matchup, she emphasized how offseason hard work had paid off.”We just kept telling ourselves that this is what we have been working for and training for for ten months. We all had it made up in our minds that we made it too far to let it slip away. We were determined and were ready to do whatever it took to win and we did just that. I’m so proud of our team. We put ACU on the map.”
The lone senior on the Wildcats, guard Sara Williamson, tallied nine points and five assists to contribute to her team’s success.
She expressed how the team had set a goal that ultimately was accomplished Sunday.”Honestly I’m overflowing with emotions right now. Our goal that we’ve been working for since June was fulfilled today, and we’re so excited about it. I’m so blessed to have been able to start and finish my collegiate career with a conference championship, but we’re not done yet. We’re looking forward to our first of many NCAA tournament appearances.”
Junior guard Dalesia Booth carried the Islanders throughout the game. She was the only player for TXAM-CC to score double figures shooting 9-12 totaling to 23 points.
With Sunday’s win, ACU clinches an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, its first in program history. The Wildcats’ opponent will be announced on ESPN Monday night at 6 p.m.