Story contributed by Lance Fleming, ACU Associate Director of Athletics for Media Relations
ABILENE – In a back-and-forth game full of big plays and big shots, Lamar senior guard Gia Ayers made the last and biggest play Thursday night to give the Cardinals an 85-83 win in a wildly entertaining Southland Conference women's basketball game at Moody Coliseum.
The Wildcats' second straight loss drops their record to 11-8 overall and 2-2 in the Southland, while the Cardinals improve to 10-8 and 5-2. ACU will return to the floor Saturday at 1 p.m. when it hosts Sam Houston State in a game that will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3.
Thursday night's game proved to be a battle between Lamar's duo of Ayers and Jameisha Edwards and the ACU trio of Suzzy Dimba, Renata Marquez and Alexis Mason. Ayers and Edwards combined for 48 of Lamar's 85 points, while Dimba (23), Marquez (22) and Mason (20) scored 65 of ACU's 83 points.
Ayers tied the game at 81-81 with 1:26 to play with a pair of free throws, but the Wildcats came back down the floor two possessions later to take an 83-81 lead with 38 seconds left to play. Sydney Shelstead's short jumper in the lane was blocked by Dominique Edwards, but Marquez was in the right spot to pick up the rebound and put it back in to give the Wildcats the two-point lead.
But Ayers – who had a game-high 25 points – had one final dagger for the Wildcats as she buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 12.54 seconds to play to give the Cardinals an 84-83 lead. On the Wildcats' next possession, Marquez drove into the lane, but was whistled for traveling as she bumped into a trio of Lamar defenders.
Marquez was then whistled for a foul with 2.31seconds to play and Caroline Ade hit the first of two free throws for the final margin.
ACU played for most of the night with most of its players in foul trouble as Lizzy Dimba ended up fouling out, Whitney West ended the game with four fouls and four others finished with three fouls. That led to Lamar going to the free throw line 34 times in the game compared to just 17 åtrips for the Wildcats.
Lamar – which entered the game hitting a meager 62.4 percent from the line – hit 27 of 34 free throws Thursday night for 79.4 percent against the Wildcats.
Suzzy Dimba played her best game as a Wildcats, finishing with career highs in points (23), 3-point field goals made (four) and rebounds (16). Marquez had 19 of her 22 points in the second as she helped ACU rally from as much as an eight-point second-half deficit. And Mason had 20 points on 7 of 17 shooting (6 of 15 from 3-point range) to go along with five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
OTHER GAME NOTES
• Lamar led 52-46 at halftime, the most first-half points the Wildcats have allowed this season, surpassing the previous high of 46 by TCU on Dec. 18.
• The combined 98 points by ACU and Lamar in the first half is a season-high for the Wildcats, surpassing the 97 points scored in the first half of the season-opener against Texas Lutheran on Nov. 8 (ACU 61, Texas Lutheran 36).
• ACU trailed at halftime for the 10th time this season, including for the third straight game. ACU is 2-8 in those 10 games.
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