The Tarleton State Texans proved to be too much for the Wildcats, defeating ACU in the Teague Special Events Center, 73-67.
Saturday night’s matchup renewed a rivalry born while both teams were located in Div. II in the Lone Star Conference. With the Texans’ win on Saturday, they now lead the series 9-2.
First-half turnovers quickly became the Achilles heel for the Wildcats in this matchup, and the Texans were able to capitalize off them, outscoring ACU 18-2 in points off turnovers in the first half. As for shooting, ACU shot 43 percent from the field and made one 3-pointer the entire half, while Tarleton shot 47 percent and made six 3-pointers. Heading into the half, Tarlton held a 40-28 lead.
“We did not start out the game very sharp on either end,” said head coach Julie Goodenough. “We got down and we lost the first quarter and the second quarter. Our turnovers were detrimental, plus us missing some defensive assignments allowed them to go on that run and put us in a hole heading into halftime.”
As for the second half, the Wildcats were able to turn the game around and narrow the Texans lead in the fourth quarter. So much so, ACU was only down by two points with 2:04 left on the clock. Tarleton did not go done without a fight, and they finished the game on a 6-2 run to give themselves the much-needed win.
“With our offense, we try to get help side to step over and take drivers, and I thought we started reading the defense better,” Goodenough said. “It was a tough night scoring, and I don’t really have a reason or solution on why we missed so many shots on our own floor. When you play at home, you assume you’ll hit open shots, but we did not do that tonight.”
Three Wildcats were ended the game scoring in double-figures. Graduate forward Jamie Bonnarens led the team with 17 points and six rebounds, while redshirt junior center Sarah Griswold scored 13 points with four rebounds and two blocks.
The last player in double figures was graduate guard Tatum Barber, who finished with 15 points along with six rebounds, two assists and two steals. After struggling over the past couple of games, Goodenough was encouraged by her performance, specifically in the first half.
“Tatum was really aggressive in the first half, especially beating girls off the dribble and finishing layups,” Goodenough said. “She was a really big part of our offense to start us off in the game.”
The Wildcats will now look to get back to winning as they face off against another familiar foe, the Sam Houston State Bearkats. The last time the two teams played each on Jan. 8, the Wildcats came out on top with a 70-59 win in Huntsville, but both teams were down multiple players and coaches due to COVID-19 protocols.
“Today, our turnovers in the first half were critical, and Sam Houston forces a lot of turnovers,” Goodenough said. “So, heading into that matchup, we got to figure out how to take care of the ball and read the defense better.”
The matchup will tip-off on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Teague Special Events Center, with the game streaming live on ESPN+.