Women’s basketball escapes Nicholls with thrilling 71-68 victory

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Contributed by: ACU Athletic Communications

THIBODAUX, La. – A 6-0 run over the final minute of regulation that included a game-tying 3-pointer by senior Whitney West Swinford propelled the Abilene Christian women’s basketball team to a 71-68 victory over Nicholls Sunday afternoon in Stopher Gym.
 
The victory lifted ACU’s overall and conference records to 12-2 and 3-0 as the Wildcats matched their longest winning streak under head coach Julie Goodenough at eight games.
 
The Colonels fell to 3-10 and 1-2 despite outscoring the Wildcats over the final three quarters, 50-41.
 
Nicholls trailed 30-18 after the first as ACU produced its second-highest scoring quarter of the season, but the home team cut its deficit down to four points at halftime (40-36) and grabbed its first lead two minutes into the third quarter (43-42) on one of three 3-pointers by LiAnnMcCarthy (19 points).
 
The Colonels held the lead for 16 minutes and appeared well on their way to handing the Wildcats’ their first Southland loss after going up by six points with 5:34 to go on a layup by defending Southland Player of the Week Marina Lilly.
 
The ACU offense also was somewhat scuffling at this point, having started the quarter 1-for-4 with a turnover. The Wildcats, though, got right back into the scoring column on a free throw by Sydney Shelstead and a layup by Suzzy Dimba that made it a one-possession game at 64-61.
 
McCarthy countered with a basket 18 seconds later to push Nicholls’ lead back to five points, but after the final media timeout was taken at the 4:05 mark the Colonels would finish the game just 1-of-4 from the field with four turnovers.
 
Nicholls also hurt itself down the stretch by sending ACU to the foul line six times in the last 3:32 starting with a pair of Lizzy Dimba free throws. Lizzy then made it a one-point game after putting back a missed shot by her twin sister, Suzzy.
 
The Colonels received their final basket from Hope Pawlowski, who made it a 68-65 game with 2:16 to go, but then at the other end an offensive board by Paris Webb saved ACU’s possession and eventually led to Swinford’s game-tying 3-pointer, which came off an assist from Suzzy Dimba.
 
Over the final minute of play McCarthy missed two 3-point attempts, including one with eight seconds remaining, and the Wildcats made three of their last four free throws. Swinford banked in two with 14 seconds left following an offensive foul by Tia Charles.
 
Today’s game for Swinford was the 100th of her Wildcat career.
 
ACU once again won the foul battle, 24-15, and made 25-of-31 (.806) of its free throws, while Nicholls hit 9-of-14 tries (.643). The Wildcats also outrebounded the Colonels, 40-36, but were outshot .419 (26-62) to .377 (20-53).
 
In 40 minutes on the court, Mason led all Wildcats with 19 points and came up a rebound shy of a double-double. Seven of her nine rebounds were off the defensive glass.
 
Lizzy Dimba hit 7-of-8 free throws and a big 3-pointer late in the third quarter to finish with 12 points, while Shelstead had 10 points and seven rebounds.
 
Lilly recorded a 16-point / 11-rebound double-double for the Colonels, and Cassidy Barrios chipped in 14 points with three 3-pointers to match McCarthy.
 
The Wildcats return to action Wednesday for a 7 p.m. home game vs. McNeese. ACU defeated the Cowgirls on the road last season, 75-59, after trailing by as many as 10 points in the second quarter.

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