The Wildcats earned back-to-back wins for the first time since the new year at home against the Lamar University Cardinals, 66-54.
“You have all the advantages when at home, so you have to take care of business and win,” said head coach Julie Goodenough. “So I appreciated how our players responded from a long trip last week and taking care of business this week at home.”
The game was tight in the first three quarters, with neither team being able to grow a large lead over the others. The largest lead that either team was able to gain was an eight-point lead.
That changed in the latter half of the fourth quarter, where the Wildcats were able to hold the Cardinals to only one field goal in the final seven minutes of the game. This allowed ACU to extend its lead to the eventual 12-point win.
“We knew going into this game that our on-ball defense would set the tone for every possession,” Goodenough said. “I would really credit our defensive intensity and lots of communication in calling screens and switches out plus being ready to help out on lobs. It was great to end this game with a lot of defensive intensity.”
The Wildcats finished the game shooting 48 percent from the field and a surprisingly low 29 percent from the 3-point line. Meanwhile, ACU held their longtime rivals to 39 percent from the field and 16 percent from the 3-point line. The game also had six lead changes and was tied 10 times.
ACU’s starting five proved to have the biggest impact on the game, scoring 59 of ACU’s 66 points. One of those starters who had a good game was senior guard Madi Miller, who scored 12 points while adding five steals and five assists.
Another starter who made a statement was graduate forward Jamie Bonnarens, who led the team with 17 points and tied Miller with five assists. At the end of the game, Bonnarens credited her teammates for her performance.
“I tried to let the game come to me and try to find my teammates,” Bonnarens said. “We knew that they would be pressuring us a lot, and we had to counter that, and today, we worked really well together.”
Tying Bonnarens in points scored was redshirt junior center Sarah Griswold. Her 17 points came while shooting 8-10 from the field and adding four rebounds. After being inactive for a week due to COVID-19 protocols, Griswold was thankful to be back in the lineup playing with her teammates.
“It was great to be able to play with my teammates again today,” Griswold said. “We were lucky to get two wins in two hard-fought games, and I’m glad to be back and be able to share the ball and have that chemistry with my teammates.”
With this win, the Wildcats officially moved to the fourth seed in Western Athletic Conference play halfway through conference play. If the Wildcats finish as one of the top four seeds in conference play, the team will receive a double-bye in the conference tournament.
The Wildcats will hit the road once again to face the tenth-ranked team in the WAC, Chicago State Cougars at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 2 in Chicago, Ill. The game in the Windy City will also be streamed live on ESPN+.