The Wildcats survived a nail-biter on Wednesday, defeating the Southland Conference’s once number-one ranked Sam Houston State Bearkats, 94-91.
“I’m just super proud of our team,” said Head Coach Julie Goodenough. “This was a really hard-fought battle, they were tremendous tonight. They never got soft or freaked out, or anything like that. They played with resolve today.”
Four Wildcats found themselves in double figures against Sam Houston. Senior guard Dominique Golightly scored 15 points, but also brought in three rebounds and two assists. Senior forward Lexie Ducat played a solid game for ACU, scoring 16 points, most of which added to the Wildcat’s 56 points in the paint.
Leading ACU once again in scoring was senior guard Breanna Wright. Despite the Bearkats’ full-court pressure, Wright scored 25 points for the Wildcats, along with having four assists and one block.
“We were really excited coming into this game,” said Wright, “to knock Sam Houston out of first place or sweep them, and that’s exactly what we did. It was a good team win, and I wouldn’t be doing this without my family here.”
Though scoring only seven points in the game, junior forward Makayla Mabry made many other contributions to help lift the Wildcats over the Bearkats. Mabry led both teams with 14 rebounds but also brought in four assists, one steal and one block.
“Tonight was very nerve-racking,” said Mabry, “but we’ve learned to stay composed. We’ve had a ton of these kinds of games in the past, like in the conference tournament. But tonight was really big and was a really big team win.”
In the first half, the Wildcats took control on both the offensive and defensive sides of the floor. ACU’s defense was able to slow down the Bearkats’ offense, causing them to shoot 34% from the field and 17% from 3-point range.
As for the Wildcats, they shot 71% from the field and 57% from the 3-point line in the first half. ACU’s ball movement and court vision were put on display, with the team having nine assists to Sam Houston’s four assists. This allowed ACU to take a 51-31 lead into halftime.
“We needed to jump on them early,” said Goodenough. “I was really proud of our starters for that. Offensively, we had our way in the first half and shot a high percentage. I’m proud of our defensive effort in the first half. We ended with rebounds on consecutive possessions that gave us early offense.”
However, the former number-one team found their stride in the second half. The Bearkats finally started to capitalize offensively, made many stops defensively and caused 11 turnovers on the defensive end. Sam Houston started to cut down the Wildcats’ large lead, making it a one-possession game in the game’s last few minutes.
It took many crucial plays down the stretch to help the Wildcats overcome the Bearkats. Many of those plays made by junior guard Anna McLeod, who scored 17 points.
The Wildcats continue conference play on Saturday, facing off against the Lady Bears of Central Arkansas for senior day. The game will tip-off at 1 p.m. and will be broadcasting live on ESPN3.
“Central Arkansas is a team fighting to make the tournament,” said Goodenough. “They’ll come in and play like junkyard dogs. They have a great coach, it’s going to be another hard-fought battle.”