ABILENE — Tie game. 9.7 seconds remaining. Your ball. What do you do?
This is the moment you live for as an athlete. It had been a physical, low-scoring battle all day, and it all came down to one possession. ACU had the ball in the front court to inbound. Madi Miller got it in to Kamryn Mraz, who had been lighting it up. Mraz drew a defender and got it back to Miller on the right wing. The junior put her head down and drove left toward the paint. With her left hand, she went away from the defender and flipped it up underhanded towards the hoop. The contested shot went off the backboard and in with just 0.8 seconds left, giving ACU a 60-58 win over the Central Arkansas Sugar Bears at the Teague Center. Miller’s heroics got ACU (10-3, 3-1 SLC) back on track in the winning column after holding on defensively.
Turning Point: The final 1:46 of the game.
ACU trailed 56-52 with 1:46 to play, but despite trailing by two possessions, never panicked. Alyssa Adams, who once again was absolutely brilliant, got a key layup rather quickly to put ACU back within two. The Wildcats then buckled in on defense, and with 1:08 left, Alice Stevenson rebounded a Tori Lasker miss and the home team had a chance to tie or take the lead.
Anna McLeod, who had just three points all game to that point, took the ball on the left wing, used a screen, and buried a three at the top to give ACU a 57-56 lead. The cold-blooded triple put the ‘Cats in front with just 54 seconds remaining. Then it got crazy.
UCA tried an entry pass to the paint, but Adams defended beautifully and got the steal to put ACU in the driver’s seat. The ball was tipped out of bounds, ACU retained possession, and Mraz drew a foul with 26 seconds left. The Little River native hit the first, missed the second, and ACU led 58-56. UCA sprinted down the floor off the miss, got positioning, missed a layup, got the rebound, dove on the floor, and drew a foul with 9.7 seconds remaining. Hannah Langhi of UCA hit two free throws to tie the game to set up the finish.
Miller’s buzzer-beater capped an 8-2 run in the final 1:46, showing just how clutch this team can be.
It was a low-scoring battle right from the get-go Saturday. The teams went back-and-forth the whole first quarter, and with ACU trailing by three, they needed to get the bad taste out of their mouths after a 2-14 shooting night from the three-point line against Sam Houston. Adams changed that with a triple to tie it at 11 with 1:16 left in the first period.
Mraz got her shot going in the second quarter, hitting a big triple to even the game at 16. She then a second one to put ACU in front, 19-16.
Mraz wasn’t done in the third period. With ACU trailing 30-27, the junior got the pass from Sarah Griswold and splashed one down to even the game yet again. It was a career day for Mraz.
ACU trailed 46-40 in the fourth quarter, and then Adams took over. She scored six straight points to tie it with 6:26 remaining. It was a tough layup followed by four straight free throws to even the game.
A forgotten play clutch moment came from freshman Alice Stevenson. It was her second consecutive start, and she hit a HUGE triple with 4:39 remaining to tie the game at 49. The game never got away from ACU, and it was key shots from Mraz, McLeod, Adams, and Stevenson to keep it close.
Adams got an and-one to put ACU up 52-51 with 2:53 to play as well, and it set up the amazing finish.
There were 13 ties and 13 lead changes in the game.
ACU has now won six in a row against the Sugar Bears. The last loss was in the 2018 Southland Conference Tournament.
Adams recorded her seventh 20-point game of the season, and her fifth in the last six games. Alyssa tallied 22 points and seven rebounds and took a career-high 20 shot attempts from the field.
Mraz’s 17 points were a career-best as well as her four three-pointers made. She added three rebounds and a pair of assists to go along with three big free throws.
Stevenson’s seven points were so clutch as she made her second consecutive start, replacing Makayla Mabry.
McLeod only had six points, but the biggest one was the three in the fourth quarter.
ACU was out-rebounded (36-27) and had more turnovers (15-11), but still won the game.
ACU wraps up the two-game home stand with a big game against the SFA Ladyjacks on Wednesday, Jan. 27. It’s a doubleheader in Teague beginning at 5:30 with the top team in the Southland Conference. The game airs on ESPN+ and 102.7 The Bear.