The undefeated Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks remained perfect in conference play on Saturday, defeating the Wildcats in the Teague Center on Senior Day, 80-62.
After the matchup, the program honored its six seniors, who include senior guards Kamryn Mraz, Madi Miller and Paige Emborsky, graduate forwards Jamie Bonnarens and Emma Middleton, plus graduate guard Tatum Barber.
“It’s been a blessing to have six seniors that have clocked a lot of minutes, whether here or at another school,” said head coach Julie Goodenough. “It’s been really fun to have that experience and maturity, which was needed balance five freshman. So, they have done a lot to coach and be mentors to the younger players on the team.”
As for the fast-paced game itself, the Wildcats kept pace with the Ladyjacks, only being down by seven at the end of the quarter. But a mix of turnovers and poor shooting in the second and third quarters allowed SFA to a 17-point margin. Despite a better shooting quarter and less turnovers from the Wildcats in the fourth, the Ladyjacks still finished on top.
“You don’t want to get down to a team like SFA,” Goodenough said. “They can score really fast, and they took advantage if we didn’t close all the way out, they hit shots and they have the big post presence inside. But, I’m really proud of how our team played, and I thought they were ready to go today.”
At the end of Saturday afternoon’s matchup, three Wildcats were in double figures, each on of them being seniors. Emma Middleton finished with 14 points on 5-9 shooting and Jamie Bonnarens ended the afternoon with 10 points.
Leading the offense for the Wildcats this game was Kamryn Mraz, who finished with a season high 18 points, making a career-high six 3-pointers. She also added two rebounds and two steals to her totals.
“Today was an exciting day and obviously, if we would have pulled off the win it would have been the most legendary Senior day ever,” Mraz said. “As for my performance, I was shot-ready and that’s what we work on every day, and I was glad my shots were going in. My teammates did a good job of finding me and getting me the ball.”
With the loss, ACU now sits at the fifth seed in the Western Athletic Conference standings, with the final week of play being crucial to determine seeding in the tournament.
The Wildcats now enter the final week of conference play, having to play three road games in one week. First, the Wildcats head to Beaumont on Monday to make up a postponed games against the Lamar Cardinals. Then ACU heads to St. George, Utah, to face Dixie State on Thursday, and wrap up conference play on Saturday in Stephenville at Tarleton.
Though they have a massive challenge ahead of them, Goodenough and her team are ready to face it head on, and see it as a way to prepare for the upcoming conference tournament.
“It’s going to be a great preview of the conference tournament to see what you can do in playing three games in a short period of time,” Goodenough said. “That’s the hand we have been dealt due to the weather here in Abilene for the past week. We’re going to take it, run with it, and take everything one game at a time.”
ACU’s matchup with Lamar in Beaumont will start at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28, with the game streaming live on ESPN+.