In their first game of the 33rd Hatter Classic, the Wildcats fell short to the University of Alabama Birmingham Blazers, 81-73.
“Our players were ready for this game,” said head coach Julie Goodenough, “plus they were super excited and full of energy, and they played really hard. But it was a really weird game today. We got great looks, our players executed and broke down their defense, but we could not finish.”
At the start, the two teams exchanged points back and forth. Towards the end of the second quarter, UAB went on a run that gave them a six-point lead heading into halftime. The Blazers kept control and expanded their lead throughout the second half, keeping the game just out of reach for the Wildcats.
Despite all the problems ACU faced in this game, senior forward Alyssa Adams was one bright spot for the Wildcats. In the fifth double-double of her career, Adams set two new career-highs with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Adams shot 12-for-17 from the field while also gathering three blocks and two steals.
“We could not make shots from the outside, so we turned to the inside,” said Goodenough. “Our guards did a good job of feeding Alyssa, and she read her defender well. She played against bigger, thicker and stronger post players, but she did work against her. We were proud of how well she finished and how hard she fought to get a good position.”
Junior guard Madi Miller also helped her team down the stretch. In her 38 minutes of play, she brought in 18 points for the Wildcats while also adding three steals, two rebounds and two assists.
Though the Wildcats had two strong performances from Adams and Miller, the rest of the Wildcats struggled offensively. While shooting 42 percent from the field, the Wildcats shot a season-low 16 percent from the 3-point line.
“We could not put the ball in the hole,” said Goodenough. “We only made four 3-pointers in this game, while in our last game, we made 19 of them. If we had made two more, the whole game would have changed.”
Along with their struggles offensively, the Wildcats struggled in many ways defensively. It also did not help ACU that the Blazers scored well in this game, shooting 48 percent from the field and 47 percent from the 3-point line. They were also able to move the ball well, with the Blazers totaling 23 assists.
“Our defense was not very good, average at best,” said Goodenough. “There have been some defensive principles we have done really well in our last games that we did not do really well in this game. We just weren’t there to help our defense on the help side today when they needed it. That was something I was disappointed about.”
The Wildcats hope to return to their winning ways in the next game of the Hatters Classic. ACU will face-off against Stetson at 10 a.m. Sunday.
“We won’t have the chance to do anything live, but we are counting on our players to cognitively understand what we are asking of them,” said Goodenough. “For them to be able to follow through with the keys of the game without actually going through things live will be huge. This is the first time we have had a no-day prep, so we’ll see how they respond.”