ABILENE, Texas - The Abilene Christian women's basketball team watched an 18-point second-half lead whittled down to three, but held on at the very end to escape Moody Coliseum Saturday night with a 74-65 victory over Angelo State. Junior 's layup with 21 seconds remaining iced the victory, giving ACU its first sweep over its conference rivals since 2004-05.
Tonight's win also boosted the Wildcats' overall and league records to 14-3 and 9-2, while the Rambelles dropped to 7-10 and 4-7.
Down 16 points at the break and 18 after senior buried the Wildcats' first attempt of the second half, Angelo State began to claw its way back into the game following the third media timeout taken with 7:56 to go. A layup by Karli Kellermeier dropped ACU's lead into single digits and Haylee Oliver's 3-pointer two possessions later brought the Rambelles to within five points at 62-57.
ASU's Morgan Youngblood made her first two buckets coming out of the final media timeout taken at 3:14, which made it a three-point game at 66-63. Luckliy for the home team, sank both free throws to push the ACU lead back to five and then Oliver was called for a charge while driving through the paint. Oliver's turnover was ASU's 21st and last of the night.
ACU capitalized on the offensive foul as Lankford hooked one in from under the basket to finish her night with 12 points, and then her teammates and Newman combined to make their last four free throws.
Marquez and Lankford tied for the team lead with 12 points. Newman had 10 and Smith recorded 11. Sophomore pulled down seven rebounds and dished out four assists to lead all Wildcats.
After being dormant for much of the first half, Angelo State finished the second half with a .576 shooting percentage and was dominant all night on the boards, out-rebounding the Wildcats, 40-21. The Rambelles, however, were haunted by their performace at the free-throw line in making just 8 of 19 attempts (.421).
Lauren Holt, Leah Lemaire and Oliver all contributed 15 points, while Kellermeier had 10 with four assists. Holt also had nine rebounds to match Youngblood and a blocked shot.
The Wildcats entered the break ahead 38-22 thanks to .560 shooting from the floor and a 25-7 run over the final 11:38 of the half. A jumper from Smith tied the score at 15-15, and then after ASU took its final lead of the half at 17-15, Newman nailed a3-pointer that put the Wildcats ahead for good at 18-17.
Lankford scored six of her 12 points during the half's final four minutes, and on ACU's second-to-last possession she forced a turnover that led to an uncontested layup. Angelo State was forced into 15 first-half turnovers, leading to 15 Wildcat points.
ASU shot .381 in the first half and received seven points each from Holt and Oliver.
A moment of silence was held prior to the game to mourn the loss of 20-year-old ACU student Lindsey Smith who was killed Friday night in a two-vehicle accident near the Abilene Regional Airport. Smith and her friends, ACU students Bo Braddock, Eric Terrazas, Calli Kerbo, Rebekah Cherniss, and Deanna Romero, were on their way to the Oplin Dance Hall when their vehicle collided head-on with another.
Two of the five students involved remained in the hospital Saturday afternoon and were being treated for their injuries; Cherniss is listed in critical condition and Romero is in good condition, but both are making progress.
The Wildcats return to action Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. vs. West Texas A&M (10-9, 6-4 LSC). ACU defeated the Lady Buffs, 81-76, on their home court earlier this season.
Information provided by ACU athletics department.