The Wildcats are now on a two-game losing streak after falling on the west coast to the Seattle University Redhawks Thursday, 75-61, and to the California Baptist Lancers Saturday, 77-71.
This proved to be one of the longest road trips that the Wildcats have had this season. Over the course of six days, they first traveled 1,900 miles from Abilene to Seattle, Wash. to face the Redhawks, then another 1,100 miles to Riverside, Calif. to face the Lancers, then finally traveled 1,80o miles back home to Abilene, with all games being against brand new opponents.
After finally returning home from the long trip, head coach Julie Goodenough said how it was good to see how her team would respond to a travel-heavy schedule like they saw last week.
“This was really our first WAC trip since we got to go and play two of the WAC schools we have never seen before,” Goodenough said. “It was good for us to experience that and play two really good opponents in two really cool cities. But it was really good to get the traveling part under our belt and see what that was like.”
As for the games themselves, despite playing two different opponents, both games looked very similar. In both games, the Wildcats got out to a hot start, but their opponents were able to come back, and both remained close into the fourth quarter.
In their game versus Seattle U, the Redhawks outscored the Wildcats by 19 points allowing them to take the 14-point win over ACU. Meanwhile, in their matchup against California Baptist, who happens to be the top team in the conference, the Wildcats and Lancers kept it close until the final 30 seconds, where the Lancers went on a small scoring run to remain undefeated in WAC play.
Over the past weeks, the Wildcats have faced multiple games that remained close down the stretch, and according to Goodenough, is something the team has gotten used to given the talent in the WAC.
“As a coach, you go into these games telling your team, ‘If we keep it close going into the fourth quarter, you have a chance to win,'” Goodenough said. “You don’t want to get down far in the final ten minutes, and our team had done a pretty good job at that so far. It speaks a lot about the WAC and how talented all the teams are because you’re not going to see many runaway games in this league, and I think we’ll continue to see those close games down the stretch.”
Multiple players found themselves in double figures during the Wildcats’ west coast road trip. Some of these include senior guard Madi Miller, who scored 12 and 15 points against Seattle U and California Baptist, respectively, graduate guard Tatum Barber who scored 13 points while playing the Lancers and graduate forwards Jamie Bonnarens and Emma Middleton scored 16 and 15 points against the Redhawks.
ACU also saw missing players again due to the NCAA’s COVID-19 protocols, with only nine players playing in each game. But players off the bench stepped up to fill those missing players, including freshmen guards Bella Earle and Nykale Cramer.
After having another week riddled with COVID-19, Goodenough hopes to have a full roster heading into their next games.
“This was our third straight week of WAC play playing shorthanded,” Goodenough said. “We’re not unlike other teams all over the country who are trying to navigate that. But, we’re hope heading into this next week we’ll have everybody back and maybe get a week under our belt with a full roster and everyone healthy.”
With the two losses, the Wildcats find themselves as the fifth-ranked team and in the top half of the Western Athletic Conference.
Now, the Wildcats are back at home this week to face off against a new foe and an old foe, the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros and the Lamar University Cardinals, a Southland turned WAC foe, with both games being huge games after the two losses on the road.
“It was really disappointing not to come back with one win,” said head coach Julie Goodenough. “I am really proud of how our players were able to lock in and play two different teams on the road. It is hard to win on the road, so not winning puts a little pressure on you when you head home, and now, we need to win at home.”
The first game of the week will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Teague Special Events Center against UTRGV, with the game streaming live on ESPN+.