The Wildcats (3-3) finished the weekend in Denton 1-1 after defeating the Montana State Bobcats (4-2) 66-61 on Friday and falling to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (3-4) 54-38 at the UNT Thanksgiving Tournament.
After the weekend tournament, head coach Julie Goodenough said that the tournament had its ups and downs for the team, and she saw the best basketball from her team in the matchup against the Bobcats from the Big Sky Conference.
“I have whiplash from the roller coaster,” Goodenough said. “We really played our best game of the season on Friday night. We played 40 minutes against a really good Montana State team who’s probably the favorite to win the Big Sky, played a really smart game, and played really well.”
In their matchup against the Bobcats, the game was tight the entire time, consisting of nine ties and 15 lead changes. Ultimately, the Wildcats earned the upper hand by outshooting the Bobcats from the field and the 3-point line.
On Friday, the Wildcats shot 42 percent from the field and 31 percent from the 3-point line, while holding the Bobcats to 36 percent shooting and only 18 percent from the 3-point line. The Wildcats scored a season high 10 3-pointers, which all proved to be the difference maker in the Friday game.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the team faced many offensive struggles in their Sunday afternoon matchup against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. The team was held to a season low 38 total points in the game. A 17-6 second quarter and a 16-5 fourth quarter in favor of Louisiana allowed them to spread their lead and take the win.
Despite the loss, the Wildcats outrebounded the Ragin’ Cajuns 40-35, while holding the team to 36 percent shooting from the field, which after the game, Goodenough was proud of, but acknowledged her young team still has a lot to learn.
“We just didn’t execute well at all offensively,” Goodenough said. “I’m really pleased with our defensive effort. But offensively, it was like we forgot our offense and we just really struggled to buy a bucket. But, it’s a testament to where we are with our our team. We’re still growing and we’ve got to kind of take the good with the bad and just learn from both situations.”
Leading the Wildcats both on and off the court in both games was graduate guard Madi Miller. She scored a season high 20 points with 12 rebounds in ACU’s win over Montana State, while scoring 15 points in the Ragin’ Cajuns matchup.
These two performances eventually earned Miller a spot on the UNT Thanksgiving All-Tournament Team, leaving Goodenough proud of her leadership both on and off the court.
“She was a really good leader for us on the floor,” Goodenough said. “She was where her teammates needed her to be and communicating on the court, while also being the hype man on the bench as well. We’re at a point now where we need her to bring other people along in those regards, just being where they need to be on the court and staying locked in and and having fire throughout the course of the game.”
Up next, the Wildcats return home to face off against the Alabama State Hornets (0-4) from the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Hornets will be looking for their first win of the season, after facing stiff competition like Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi State and SMU.
According to Goodenough, the Hornets are similar to the Ragin’ Cajuns, and the team needs to focus on themselves and their mistakes in order to come out on top in their next game.
“We’re going to see a lot of similarities between Louisiana and Alabama State,” Goodenough said, “just an athleticism, quickness, good defensive pressure. Really, the games probably fell in line pretty well because some things that we’ve got to get better at from Sunday’s game will help us be successful on Friday.
The Wildcats’ matchup against the Hornets will begin in Moody Coliseum on Friday at 6 p.m. with the game streaming live on ESPN+.