ABILENE - The Abilene Christian basketball teams resume Lone Star Conference play Tuesday night when they play host to a doubleheader vs. Incarnate Word beginning at 5:30 p.m. Grant Boone will handle the play-by-play duties for both games aired locally on 1280 AM - KSLI.
The Wildcat squads emerged victorious from their Christmas recesses with the men's team edging Dallas Baptist, 85-82, and the women's team sweeping its competition at the West Texas Holiday Classic. The Wildcats began the tournament with a 70-66 win over Shaw (N.C.) followed by a 64-57 victory over Southwestern Oklahoma State.
The 2-0 trip to Canyon lifted the women's season record to 6-5, but the Wildcats are still in need of more conference victories at the start of the season's second half. ACU's lone win was a 92-85 double overtime nail biter at Eastern New Mexico.
The Wildcats have played their last three games without leading scorer Mack Lankford (18.4 ppg) due to injury, but Renata Marquez, Kelsey Smith and Paige Parliament have all averaged more than 11 points per game during her absence. Marquez also contributed double doubles vs. Shaw and Southwestern, while Smith came away with four blocks and 7.0 rebounds per game.
Parliament has been a force in the paint as well, and against Southwestern she matched her season high of nine rebounds in addition to sinking 7 of 11 free-throw attempts. From the field Parliament is shooting 52.1 percent and has made more than half her baskets through three of her last four starts.
Like the Wildcats, the Cardinal's women's team also has struggled against the conference and enters this week with records of 7-5 and 2-4. Incarnate Word began the year 4-0 and 6-1, but has since lost four of its last five - its lone win was a 65-52 thrashing of Arkansas-Monticello.
The Cardinal offense is led by Katy Cooke's 12.5 scoring average, which includes 43 percent shooting from the court and a near perfect .919 (34 of 37) free-throw percentage. Cooke also leads the team with 18 treys and is second with 43 assists and 24 steals.
Chloe Wallace and Jocelyn Jarmon lead UIW's rebounding efforts as both are pulling down more than 7.0 boards per game. Additionally, Jarmon has dished out 47 assists, stole 24 passes and blocked five shots while averaging 9.3 points per game.
ACU's men's victory over Dallas Baptist snapped a season worst four-game losing streak and lifted its season mark back to .500 at 6-6; however, just like the Wildcat women, head coach Joe Golding's team is nearing desperation for a conference win following a 0-4 start.
But Friday night's win over the Patriots proved that all is not lost for this program, and the confidence gained by the Wildcats could serve as a jumping-off point for a successful second half.
Led by 22 points apiece from veterans Kendall Durant and Zach Williams, the Wildcats meticulously trimmed a 16-point first-half Patriot lead down to seven, and then exploded for nine points during the first 1:29 of the second half.
Eric Milam had a pair of steals and a defensive rebound in the early run, and his efforts directly led to Durant's back-to-back 3-pointers and then another triple from Antonio Bell, which gave ACU its first lead of the game.
DBU immediately responded with a 10-2 run to regain a 49-42 lead, but the Wildcats got back into it and finally took the lead for good at 59-57 on a Bell jumper with 9:12 left in the game. ACU pushed its lead out to 68-61 with 6:51 left before DBU rallied again to cut it to 68-66.
Jordan McGowen's 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining brought the Patriots within a point at 83-82, but Durant buried two free throws to push the lead to 85-82 and DBU's Armie Lewis missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Wildcats the win.
Williams not only leads ACU in scoring with 14.5 ppg, but also is first with nine blocks and 20 steals. Durant is second with 12.0 ppg followed by Bell with 11.6 ppg.
The Cardinals' No. 1 scoring threat is Chris Johnson, who is averaging 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. But as a team, UIW has struggled to consistently make shots from 3-point range (.269) or the foul line (.614).
As a result, Incarnate Word has lost four straight after starting the year at 6-3. The Cardinals' most recent decision was an 81-76 overtime loss to St. Mary's- a game in which they hit just 3 of 19 three-point attempts.
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