ABILENE – Despite all of the missed layups, missed free throws and being out-rebounded by 14, the ACU Wildcats were somehow still in position to tie Saturday afternoon's game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and possibly send it to overtime.
The Wildcats had that chance when freshman forward Lizzy Dimba was fouled with less than five seconds to play while grabbing an offensive rebound. She went to the free throw line with the Wildcats down 72-70, needing both free throws to give the Wildcats a chance at an overtime session.
She buried the first free throw, but was short on the second, and Jasmine Shaw – who did it all Saturday for the Islanders – grabbed the rebound and was fouled with less than one second to play. She hit both free throws to seal the game, giving Corpus Christi a 74-71 win in the first meeting ever between the two teams.
The loss drops the Wildcats to 13-11 overall and 4-5 in the Southland as they lost for the fifth time in their last seven games. The Islanders, meanwhile, improve to 12-11 and 5-7. ACU will be back in action Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in San Antonio against Incarnate Word in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN3.
The Wildcats had their chances throughout the game, but couldn't control Shaw on the defensive end of the floor, and couldn't get much going on the offensive end. Shaw scored 26 points – burying 6 of 7 from 3-point range – in just 23 minutes. On their offensive end, the Wildcats shot 41.8 percent (23 of 55), but missed several point-blank layups that could have been the difference.
The biggest difference for the Wildcats, though, was at the free throw line where ACU – which entered the game shooting 66 percent on the season – hit just 17 of 28 free throws (60.7 percent). Those misses were critical for the Wildcats, who are now just 2-5 in games decided by five points or less.
"We had our chances, but we didn't execute defensively against Shaw, and we didn't do a good job at the free throw line," ACU head coach Julie Goodenough said. "When you go to the line 28 times you've got to do better than we did (today). That's the difference in the game."
The Wildcats fought an uphill battle most of the game, rallying to get close on several occasions only to see the Islanders pull away again. ACU fell behind 50-42 early in the second half only to reel off eight straight points to tie the game at 50-50 with 9:37 to play.
The Islanders, however, would push the lead out to 65-56 with a 15-6 run over the next 3:35, a run led by Shaw's 13 points. But the Wildcats answered right back with a 12-3 run of their own to tie the game at 68-68 with 3:54 to play. Renata Marquez and Whitney West got it started with back-to-back 3-pointers, followed by a free throw by Marquez, who also capped the run with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 68 apiece.
But Corpus answered again with a layup from Camesha Davis and a jumper by Brandi Huff to make it a 72-68 game with 3:03 to play. Those would ultimately be the game-winning points for the Islanders. ACU had a chance, though, thanks to a layup by Lizzy Dimba with 49 seconds left to bring her team to within 72-70.
Shaw then missed a jumper and Suzzy Dimba grabbed the defensive rebound to give ACU the chance to either tie the game or take the lead. Marquez fired up a 3-pointer that was short with five seconds left. Lizzy Dimba, though, pulled down the offensive rebound and was undercut by Ashley Darley to send Lizzy Dimba to the line where she made 1 of 2.
Marquez led the Wildcats with 17 points, while West had 11 and Suzzy Dimba 10 points and 11 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season. Sydney Shelstead came off the bench to score 10 points.