The Wildcats (4-4) remain winless on the road on Wednesday night after losing to the New Mexico Lobos (5-4) in The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 71-61.
After the game, head coach Julie Goodenough talked about playing in New Mexico’s arena, which saw over four thousand people in the Wednesday night matchup.
“Historically, the pit is a really cool place to go play basketball,” Goodenough said. “There was not really a way for us to emulate that in preparing for that game. It’s hard to beat the women’s team, hard to beat the men’s team. I mean, the place would just erupt, it was a really neat environment.”
The Wednesday night matchup against the Mountain West Conference team was the first time that the two faced off against each other during ACU’s Division I era. The Wildcats were also missing sophomore guard Bella Earle due to illness and sophomore forward Raychael Harjo due to injury.
Despite ACU missing one of its starters and key players off the bench, the Wildcats gave the Lobos a strong fight. Strong showings in the second and third quarters kept the Wildcats in the game and even allowed the team to have a brief 47-46 lead with 1:03 left in the third quarter.
Yet, what ultimately decided the game were three runs in favor of New Mexico. The Lobos started the game on an 8-0 run, allowing them to keep a solid lead in the first frame. This run, according Goodenough, impacted the game’s outcome.
“The first five minutes, we were just kind of out of sorts,” Goodenough said. “In so, we were making up for that really the rest of the game. But, after the first five minutes, after the first media time out, we settled down, we executed. So, we’ve got to learn to start the game better. It’s just hard to play catch up when you’re in someone else’s arena.”
The Wildcats slowly chipped away and got their one-point lead, but a 5-0 run to end the last minute of the third quarter and a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter gave the Lobos their lead back and the ability to finish the game with the win.
ACU finished the game shooting 40 percent from the field and 32 percent from the 3-point line, not far off from the Lobos’ 44 percent and 33 percent. What proved to be the difference maker were points off turnovers and fast break points, where the Lobos boasted the advantage 15-7 and 17-7, respectively.
“We made some mistakes and they’re a really good transition offensive team,” Goodenough said, “But, you know, offensively I felt like we got shots that we wanted, and had good plays overall offensively, it was just some transition errors and just the fact that maybe the crowd had something to do with that.”
Leading the Wildcats offensively was graduate guard Madi Miller and sophomore guard Aspen Thornton. Miller finished Wednesday night with 12 points, while Thornton finished with a season-high 17 points shooting 7-16 from the field with two 3-pointers, and leading the team with three assists.
For their next game, the Wildcats head to Tulsa, Oklahoma to face off against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (2-7). ORU is most recently coming off a 58-92 loss to the University of Arkansas. As for the Wildcats and the Golden Eagles most recent game against each other, ACU saw a close 66-69 loss to Oral Roberts.
ACU and ORU will tip off in the Mabee Center on Sunday at 2 p.m., with the game streaming live on the ORU Sports Network and the ACU Sports Network.