The Texas-Permian Basin women's basketball team battled all the way back from a 12-point deficit early in the second half to win its third straight game against Abilene Christian, 74-71, Tuesday night at Moody Coliseum.
The loss dropped ACU's record to 1-1, while the Falcons made a winner of first-year head coach Jerome Willis in their season opener.
The Wildcats entered the break ahead by nine and took their largest lead of the night a minute into the second half at 41-29 after junior Renata Marquez buried a 3-pointer. But the long-distance shots that worked so well for ACU in the first half (6-12), failed to connect in the second (2-14), including Shannon Sanders' desperation attempt from the half-court line with less than a second remaining.
But ACU also experienced some issues at the free-throw line in missing seven of 18 second-half attempts, and coughed the ball up 12 times, compared to five for the Falcons.
Following the trey by Marquez, the Falcons took off on a six-minute 18-6 run ignited by Teisha King, who scored eight points during this stretch after staring the game 0-for-6 from the field. King scored all but two of her 18 points in the second half, which included an unflappable 6-for-6 showing from the charity stripe during the final two minutes.
After King's jumper at the 12:34 mark knotted the score at 47-47, the home team struggled to extend its lead past a point or two as it turned the ball over four times within a span of six minutes. Junior Mackenzie Lankford's layup with 6:43 remaining gave ACU its final lead of the night at 58-57, and afterward the Falcons went on an 10-4 run that was capped by two of King's free throws.
A half dozen more foul shots by the Falcons during the final minute put them ahead by as many as seven, but the Wildcats refused to go away quietly. A 3-pointer by Sanders with 21 seconds left cut the deficit to four, and then after Jocelyn Cook turned the ball over, Lankford hooked in a layup that made it a one-possession game at 73-71.
Cook missed one of her two free throws with five seconds left to give the Wildcats one last chance at tying the score, but Sanders couldn't find an open shooter as she crossed half court, and her last-second heave fell well short of the basket.
Senior Kelsey Smith pulled down 12 rebounds and was one of three Wildcats to share the team lead in points with 13. Freshman Kynzie Newman was right behind them with 12 points off the bench.
Taniqua Ards of UT-PB led all players with 21 points on 9 of 16 shooting and finished a rebound shy of a double-double. She and six-foot senior Briannah Matthews (14 points) also helped the Falcons out-score ACU in the paint by a 40-28 margin.
The Wildcats return to action in two weeks for their Lone Star Conference season opener at West Texas A&M on Nov. 28.
Information for this story provided by ACU Sports Information.