The Wildcats (10-11, 4-6) hosted the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (18-4, 9-2) Saturday in Moody Coliseum for senior day which resulted in a tough loss, 53-66.
This is the second matchup this season between both teams, with the first meeting occurring in December which also ended in a loss for ACU, 78-83. SFA falls in second in the Western Athletic Conference rankings so far, just behind Southern Utah.
Despite the Wildcats failing to win any of the quarters in the end, they forced the Lumberjacks to change the lead seven times, tying the score twice.
“I think there was some poor offensive execution today,” head coach Julie Goodenough said. “SFA had a lot to do with that, I mean they take up a lot of space and they did a great job offensively.”
SFA won tip-off and had the chance to take the lead from the start but 15 seconds in, the Wildcats forced a turnover, pulling the momentum to their side and making the first score of the game. The Lumberjacks were able to go up by two against ACU by gaining a turnover, but sophomore guard Bella Earle shot a successful three-pointer, putting the Wildcats back up by one. Despite the change in the lead, the Lumberjacks were able to bounce back and keep the lead for the rest of the quarter, ending the first, 19-13.
The second quarter started with a back-to-back turnover from ACU and then SFA but ended with graduate forward Maleeah Langstaff putting up a layup closing the gap. The Wildcats went on a seven-point run, pulling ahead by one but then quickly losing it, just to bring it back, 23-22. After over a minute of no scoring, the Lumberjacks pulled ahead with two free throws. They preceded to go on a nine-point run and then shut out ACU for the rest of the quarter, moving into halftime ahead, 33-25
“First half, we took the lead and then we got a couple of quick calls,” Goodenough said. “Which caused us to substitute and then you know, were down at half time.”
Coming out of half, the last two quarters were a tough battle for the Wildcats. The Lumberjacks pulled out the lead to 17 at one point and ACU could only get the deficit down to 11 with 28 seconds to go in the game. Specifically, in the fourth quarter, the Lumberjacks were able to capitalize on the Wildcat’s 13 missed shots with SFA only missing 8 shots.
Statistically, both teams were similar in their shots but SFA was able to create a slightly better offensive game than the Wildcats. Both competitors fell hard coming to three-pointers with ACU going 0-7 in the second quarter and SFA 0-6 in the third. The Lumberjacks outshot ACU from the field 49.0% to 35.8%, but the Wildcats were able to gain more points off of turnovers.
The Wildcats honored two seniors, graduate guard Madi Miller, and Langstaff. Miller scored seven points throughout the night and pulled four rebounds. Langstaff was the Wildcat’s top scorer with 17 and went 7 for 10 from the field.
“I think maturity is probably what they bring to us on a daily basis,” Goodenough said. “You know, we’re a very young team and so we need their stability, the way they think about things. Just their perspective is a lot more mature than some of their teammates. So we really appreciate them stepping into that leadership role for us.”
The Wildcats stay at home for their next game against Utah Valley at 2 p.m. Monday in Moody Coliseum, streaming on ESPN+ and ACU Sports Network.
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