Big Senior Night For ACU Women, Top UIW 68-45

March 1st, 2017 - ACU splits with Incarnate Word on senior night. The women take down the Cardinals 68-45 and the men fall 89-75.

ABILENE - In the final home game of their distinguished careers, the senior class of Lizzy and Suzzy Dimba, Alexis Mason and Sydney Shelstead powered the Wildcats past rival Incarnate Word, 68-45, Wednesday night at Moody Coliseum.

The victory lifted ACU's overall and Southland Conference records to 21-8 and 15-2, tying them with Central Arkansas for first place with one game to go. The Wildcats play their final regular-season game at Houston Baptist, and the Sugar Bears venture to Northwestern State. 

Incarnate Word fell to 9-19 overall and 7-10 within the league as its three-game winning streak was snapped by the Wildcats, who have now won eight straight games in the all-time series.

The game was never pretty offensively with the Wildcats finishing with a 36.0 percent shooting percentage (27-75) and the Cardinals hitting just south of 28 percent (17-61), but ACU simply killed it on the glass all night finishing with a season best 67 rebounds. Shelstead had 23 of those boards - setting a new career single-game high - and scored 16 points on 8-of-16 shooting for her team-leading eighth double-double of the year.

ACU's rebound total was its highest since moving into the DI ranks, and its most since pulling down the same number against East Central on Dec. 9, 2010. The school record of 74 was set against Southern Colorado in November of 1993.

"We knew that No. 23 for Incarnate Word (Celia Garcia Paunero) was a good rebounder and that their offense came from drives to the basket and offensive cutbacks," said Shelstead, "so I think a lot of my rebounds came on the backside of the offensive set, which is where they've been getting a lot of their rebounds this season."

Lizzy Dimba also registered a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds (the 16th of her career), and Suzzy Dimba finished just one rebound shy to go along with a game-high 17 points.

ACU defensively also shut down one of the Southland's best offensive weapons in Celia Garcia Paunero, who was limited to just eight points on 3-of-15 shooting. She did, however, block three shots and pull down 12 rebounds. 

The two teams were tied at 15-15 after the first quarter, and the Wildcats led by four points at halftime, 26-22, before taking control of the game for good during a 26-point third quarter. 

Garcia Paunero started the second half with a trey to cut their deficit to one point, but then the Wildcats took off on a 14-2 run that included 3-pointers by Breanna Wright and Suzzy Dimba. Alexis Mason then hit a pair of free throws at the 4:52 mark to push ACU's lead into the double digits at 38-27, and Sara Williamson provided an offensive spark from the bench, scoring seven of her eight points within a two-minute window. Williamson's jumper with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter put the Wildcats up by 16 points at, 47-31, and her free throw on ACU's final possession put the home team up by 18 entering the final quarter.

"We knew they were going to double-team the posts and we had to re-locate and get open on the perimeter," said Suzzy Dimba. "We didn't do much offensively in the first half, but we did a better job of finding shooters in the second half."

Suzzy Dimba would make the first two buckets of the fourth in giving the Wildcats a 22-point lead, and with two minutes to go, Lizzy buried a 3-pointer than gave ACU its largest lead of the night at 25 points, 66-41.

ACU's second-half offense allowed them to coast into a long-awaited postgame celebration in which the four seniors were showered with gifts and praise from family and members of the Wildcats' athletics department. This group was the nucleus of four teams that won 82 games, more than half of which took place at Moody Coliseum where the seniors posted an overall record of 49-10 (.831).

"I kept telling myself all through pre-game warmups that I wasn't going to cry, and I did a pretty good job controlling it until someone on the bench said something about this being our last time through warmups at home and then I lost it," said Lizzy Dimba. "I pretty much cried through the entire introduction."

Goodenough also tried to keep her emotions in check, while Mason appeared focused on the tasks at hand.

"I tried to control my thoughts throughout the day, even though I was asked about tonight's game several times," said Goodenough. "The biggest thing was that we had to win this game if we wanted to have a chance to repeat as conference champions. Our team did a great job putting the distractions behind them and focusing on getting the win."

"I really didn't think too much about this being our last home game," added Mason. "Once we got on the floor and got things going, it was just a regular game."

ACU plays its final regular-season game Saturday at 3:30 p.m. vs. Houston Baptist at Sharp Gymnasium, and will likely have to wait until after next week's Southland Conference Championship to find out its postseason destination.


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