ACU women's basketball picks up road win, keeps pace with LSC lead

WICHITA FALLS, Texas - ACU junior guard Mackenzie Lankford was spectacular last Saturday in the Wildcats' home win over Tarleton State with 25 first-half points on her way to 31 points in an 86-70 home win.

She was even better Wednesday night as she scored a season-high 33 points to lead the Wildcats to an 85-72 win over Midwestern State at D.L. Ligon Coliseum.

The win snapped Midwestern State's 11-game winning streak and forced a tie between ACU and Midwestern State atop the Lone Star Conference standings.  ACU and MSU are both now 18-4 overall and 13-3 in the LSC as ACU has won three straight since a shocking 81-73 loss at Eastern New Mexico on Feb. 2.

The Wildcats will be back in action Saturday at last-place Cameron as the Wildcats and Lady Aggies play for the final time ever at 2 p.m. at Aggie Gym.  ACU leads the all-time series against Cameron, 19-9.

ACU led the Mustangs by 15 at halftime and pushed the lead out to 19 points (53-34) after two free throws by Kelsey Smith with 17:39 left in the game.  But Lankford left the game shortly after that with a left ankle injury and MSU went on a 23-11 run to cut the lead to 64-57 with 9:31 to play.

But Lankford came back into the game shortly after and re-asserted herself with a steal and two free throws to push the lead back to 68-57 with 8:18 to play.  MSU came back with another spurt to cut ACU's lead to 70-63 with 7:31 to play on a pair of free throws by Andrea Carter.

Then came what might have been the key sequence of the game.  Lisa Hampton missed a layup with 7:13 to play and Lankford stuck her nose into the lane and picked off the rebound, a rarity for the Wildcats, who were out-rebounded, 45-24.

Lankford took the ball down the floor and buried a 3-pointer with 7:07 to play to push the lead back to 10 points at 73-63.  MSU then came down and despite getting two good looks couldn't put a shot down.  After Skyler Warrick missed a layup, the ball went out of bounds to the Wildcats.

On ACU's next possession, Lankford buried another 3-pointer to push the lead back to 76-63.  The Wildcats' lead would not drop below nine points the rest of the night.

ACU scored the first five points of the game on a Kelsey Smith layup on a feed from Lankford and then a Lankford 3-pointer.  The Wildcats would never trail the rest of the night.  In fact, they would never lead by less than three points after Renata Marquez hit a layup on a feed from Sadie Dickinson with 14:38 to play to push the Wildcats out to an 11-6 lead.

In ACU's 76-62 home loss to Midwestern State on Jan. 3, the Wildcats scored just 21 first-half points. The Wildcats surpassed that total with 11:25 to play after Lankford hit a layup and a Kynzie Newman followed with a 3-pointer to make ti 22-11, the Wildcats' first double-digit lead of the night.

Lankford was virtually unstoppable throughout the first half, hitting 6 of 9 shots from the field, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range, and she hit 5 of 5 free throws for her 20 points.  But Lankford wasn't alone as freshman guard Whitney West -- starting at the point in place of Shannon Sanders, who was back in Abilene with bronchitis -- had nine points and Marquez had seven points.

MSU cut ACU's first-half lead to 38-27 with 4:08 to play in the half before Lankford hit another 3-pointer to make it 41-27 with 3:24 left in the half.  The lead was down to 12 late in the half when Marquez missed a 3-pointer and MSU got the rebound.  MSU missed two point-blank shots with four seconds left and the ball was punched out to Lankford, who hit Marquez in stride with a 75-foot pass.  She hit a layup and was fouled by Kirsti Degelia at the buzzer and Marquez hit a free throw to give ACU A 46-31 lead at halftime.

Marquez finished with 14 points, while Newman had 10 big points off the bench.  West finished with 10 points and Sadie Dickinson had nine points.

Information for this story provided by ACU Sports Information.

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