After starting the season with a five-game win streak, ACU suffered its first loss of the season to No. 10 Texas A&M, 77-59.
“We talked about what a huge challenge it was to be to play Texas A&M but one we were really looking forward to,” said head coach Julie Goodenough. “But we did not fully understand what the challenge would look like until we were out there on the court. It took us too long in the first half to identify what we needed to do so we could execute and get stops.”
The Wildcats had a rough start at the beginning of the game. They only had five points at the end of the first quarter to the Aggies 16. But after they shook off their nerves, they found their rhythm and played relatively consistently throughout the rest of the game.
“I give Abilene a lot of credit,” said head coach Gary Blair. “This is a team that will compete to win it in their league if they can keep everyone healthy. I like what coach Goodenough is doing; she runs a lot of set plays, and sometimes we were not ready for that since this is not the type of offense we see in the SEC.”
Leading all scorers in this game was senior guard Anna McLeod, who scored 18 points for the Wildcats. Other players that made contributions offensively was sophomore guard Kamryn Mraz with 10 points and three assists, plus senior forward Alyssa Adams and junior guard Paige Emborsky with nine points apiece.
Though the Wildcats had gotten plenty of chances to shoot the ball, their shots did not fall in the first half. ACU (5-1) shot 25 3-pointers in the first half, but they only made six of them throughout the evening.
Things finally started turning around in the second half, and the shots the Wildcats were taking finally fell. At the end of the second half, ACU shot 42 percent from the 3-point line and 56 percent from the field as a whole. Despite this dramatic change between the halves, the Wildcats could not dig themselves out of the hole created in the first half.
“We rushed some shots early,” said Goodenough, “We found ourselves wide open, but we could not convert. Over the past couple of days, we have talked about how the 3-point line would be our best looks for this game, especially with the paint being as closed off as it was. We wanted to get the attempts off and we did, but we just rushed our shots.”
Defensively, the Wildcats did the best they could with their size compared to the much bigger Texas A&M (6-0) team. ACU also had some crucial lapses in the defense that the Aggies exploited and used to score their points.
ACU was also able to force 16 turnovers throughout the game and steal the ball eight times. At the same time, ACU committed 21 turnovers had the ball stolen 12 times. Unfortunately, they could not convert offensively off those turnovers, with the Aggies outscoring ACU 27-12 on points off turnovers.
“The team did a nice job taking away direct post feeds,” said Goodenough. “We had a lot of live-ball turnovers in this game, so going from here, it will be important to cut those down. Plus, we have to be intense throughout the entire defensive possession and take care of some defensive lapses.”
ACU will be able to take a quick break before their next matchup. The Wildcats will return home Tuesday to face off against UT Tyler. The game will tip-off at 5:30 p.m. and will be streaming live on ESPN+.