The Wildcats secured their first win at the Southland Conference Tournament on Wednesday against the University of Incarnate Word, 81-70.
The game stayed tight throughout the first three quarters, with neither ACU nor the Cardinals pulling ahead by a large margin.
At the end of the third quarter, senior guard Anna McLeod hit a much needed 3-point shot to help ACU take the lead once again, then with a couple of seconds left in the quarter, freshman guard Taylor Morgan wove through the defense to make a layup, beating the buzzer.
These two made baskets served as the spark to an 11-0 for the Wildcats that went into the fourth quarter. This allowed the Wildcats to gain momentum, take control of the game and win.
“I’m super proud of our team effort and our intensity today,” said head coach Julie Goodenough. “We didn’t finish the season that well, but we won on Saturday, and our team has continued to play with confidence over the past couple of days. This was a hard-fought battle, but in the fourth quarter, our defense really stepped up and we had players make big plays, helping us get this win.”
One Wildcat who played well throughout the game was McLeod. She tied her career-high for the third time with 28 points, all while shooting 64 percent from the field and making six 3-pointers. She also added 10 rebounds to her total, allowing her to have her third-career double-double.
She credited the win to the trust that the coaching staff and teammates have in each other and the team working hard to get open shots.
“It’s a team game,” McLeod said, “so we all had to get stops and rebounds. Then we had to execute the offense well, and we were able to do that by getting each other open.”
Another player that stepped in to help ACU was Morgan. In her 21 minutes, she scored 9 points and led the Wildcats in assists with five of them.
Despite the pressure of this being her first tournament game, Morgan had fun and enjoyed playing alongside her teammates.
“It was super exciting to win this game, especially since this is my first time here,” Morgan said. “It was a super fun game for all of us, and it was great to win with my teammates.”
ACU only turned the ball over 10 times on Wednesday, with that being the second-lowest turnovers they have had in a game this season. On the other side, they caused UIW to commit 16 turnovers, scoring 16 points off of their turnovers.
The team also shot the ball much better than they have over the previous games. The Wildcats finished Wednesday, shooting 49 percent from the field and 41 percent from the 3-point line. Meanwhile, they held the Cardinals to 45 percent from the field and 33 percent from the 3-point line.
ACU faces a quick turnaround, only having 24 hours to get ready for Nicholls. This second-round matchup will be the first time these two teams will face each other this season.
The Thursday game will tip-off at 2 p.m. and will broadcast live on ESPN+ and 102.7 F.M., The Bear.
“We’re going to give a chance for our players to take a shower and get off their feet for a little bit,” Goodenough said. “We’ll have a team meeting tonight and walk through as much as we can to help put our team in a position to move forward with our game plan. We have a good game plan heading into tomorrow, but the big thing will be to properly refuel and recover as much as possible.”