ABILENE – Stephen F. Austin women’s basketball quickly erased a one-point deficit with a 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter in defeating Abilene Christian, 71-55, Wednesday night at Moody Coliseum. Ladyjack Imani Johnson scored eight of her game-high 18 points in the final quarter to go along with six rebounds and three assists.
With the loss, ACU fell 1.5 games behind SFA in the standings with overall and Southland Conference records of 12-6 and 5-2. The Ladyjacks, meanwhile, improved to 15-3 and 6-0.
The Wildcats battled back from seven points down over the final 4:44 of the third quarter to grab a 47-46 lead after 30 minutes of play. ACU’s run was sparked by a Sara Williamson (15 points, two assists, one steal) layup and continued with six consecutive free throws from the Rowlett native and junior Breanna Wright (14 points, five rebounds, four assists). Williamson’s last two free throws of the third quarter cut SFA’s lead to 44-42 and then she tied the score on a fast-break layup (assist from Wright) following a missed jumper by the Ladyjacks.
Johnson hit another go-ahead basket on with :24 seconds left, and then Wright was left wide open for a 3-pointer that gave ACU its first lead (47-46) since the 4:32 mark of the second quarter.
But right out of the fourth-quarter gate, the Wildcats were charged with four personal fouls within a span of 2:14 that led directly to seven points from the free-throw line. Then a trey from Heaven Hamling (7 points) at the 6:42 mark put SFA ahead by double digits for the first time all night at 58-47. Makayla Mabry followed with a jumper just outside the paint to bring the Wildcats back within nine points, but they’d get no closer as the Ladyjacks limited them to only eight fourth-quarter points on 2-10 shooting.
SFA went up by as many as 19 points after receiving an Alyssa Mayfield basket on their final possession. And to end the game, Wright hit her last three free throws to finish 9-for-9 from the charity stripe. Her season free-throw percentage now stands at .882 (67-76).
ACU led for most of the first quarter and were up 20-15 after 10 minutes thanks in part to a pair of three-pointers from junior Dominique Golightly, who tied Williamson for the team lead in points with 15. In the second quarter, however, the Wildcats were held to only four points (1-14) and missed all 10 of their 3-point attempts as the Ladyjacks went into the break ahead 30-26.
ACU went on to finish the game with a .273 field goal percentage (15-55) and were 5-31 from the 3-point arc (.161). The home team was solid from the free-throw line, where they made 20-of-23 attempts (.870).
Next up for the Wildcats is a Saturday 1 p.m. game vs. Central Arkansas. There will be a Diaper Derby for babies at halftime in addition to activities for women’s basketball alumni.