ACU’s home record is no longer unblemished as the Wildcats fell to Oral Roberts University, 66-69.
“I’m proud of our players and how they handled the adversity, but we didn’t hit shots we normally hit,” said head coach Julie Goodenough. “The fight was good, we gave ourselves a chance to tie it and take the lead towards the end of the game, but we just couldn’t finish, and part of that is on me for not taking us home.”
In a game expected to be run by offense, defense won and lost the game for both teams. The first game of the doubleheader on Wednesday night started with a defensive slugfest in the first quarter, where ACU was held to 13 points while ORU was held to six points.
The offense for both teams began to pick up in the final three frames, but rebounding at second-chance points soon became the Wildcats’ achilles heel.
Despite ACU having a better shooting percentage from both the field and the 3-point line than the Golden Eagles, ORU out-rebounded the Wildcats 42-30, including 17 offensive rebounds, which let ORU earn 26 second-chance points while ACU only had eight.
“We didn’t block out which allowed them to have easy paths to the basket,” Goodenough said. “Offensive rebounds also really hurt us tonight. We didn’t convert ours well, and they scored 26 points off theirs, and if we had prevented two of those, we would have won the ball game.”
Another contributing factor was point production off the bench. While the Golden Eagles bench added 22 points, the only player off the bench to score for ACU was graduate transfer forward Emma Middleton, who finished with four points.
The rest of the Wildcats points came from the starting five, primarily from graduate transfer forward Jamie Bonnarens and senior guard Madi Miller.
Bonnarens topped her season-high initially set against UNT-Dallas, finishing the night with 25 points, all while shooting 48 percent from the field. She also led the team in rebounding, finishing the night with eight.
After having a rough start to the game, Bonnarens wanted to turn the game around all so that she could help her team try to win.
“First half it wasn’t working for me, I was having a rough shooting night,” Bonnarens said. “I went into halftime thinking ‘new game’ and I have played long enough to know to not carry discouragement into the second half. My team needed me, so I tried my best to be there for them.”
As for Miller, she added 16 points to the Wildcats 66 points, all while adding three rebounds and two steals.
This game resulted in the Wildcats’ second loss of the season, with it being the team’s first loss since Nov. 23 when the team fell to Kansas State. It was also the Wildcats’ first loss at home this season.
Up next, ACU (7-2) will hope to bounce back and will start the final home doubleheader of the season on Dec. 19 with a matchup with the Big Sky Conference’s Northern Colorado (2-6). The Bears come to Abilene to return last year’s matchup in Greenly, Colo. between the two teams, where ACU came out on top, 81-61.
“We’ll need to figure out how to recover, we looked kind of dead-legged from the beginning and you could see that in our shooting and rebounding,” Goodenough said. “So we’ll need to recover tomorrow and start getting ready for Northern Colorado. We had a battle at their place last year, and hopefully, the lapses we had today will teach us what we need to work on to help get ready for Sunday.”
The Wildcats and Bears begin Sunday afternoon’s doubleheader in the Teague Special Events Center at 1 p.m., with the game streaming on ESPN+ and 102.7 F.M., The Bear.