In their final year in the Lone Star Conference, the Wildcats posted one of ACU’s greatest seasons. With a new head coach and new style of play, the Lady ‘Cats finished as LSC champions and proved that ACU basketball is a legitimate program.
“Having a new coach and having to adjust to a new system was our biggest challenge,” sophomore Sadie Dickinson. “But that set back forced us to take huge leaps to get to where we got. Our focus and determination that came from the change was definitely a key in our successful season.”
The Wildcats, originally projected to finish seventh in the LSC preseason poll, were 7-3 in their first ten games and began to prove that they were a team not to be taken granted.
“No one thought such change could come in such a short amount of time,” Dickinson said. “We were the only ones who believed we could actually become conference champions and attend the NCAA regional tournament. Because of this desire, we were able to make it happen.”
The Wildcats continued their exceptional play, and hit their stride in January. After the New Year, ACU went on an eight game winning streak, including a 90-43 win over Cameron University and a 108-21 win against Southwest Adventist University. The Wildcats won thirteen of fifteen games throughout Jan. and Feb. and were tied for the best record in the LSC.
Perhaps the greatest moment of the season for the Wildcats came on Feb. 9 as they faced off against Tarleton State who was ranked second in the conference. The Lady ‘Cats dominated with an 86-70 win in Abilene. ACU then took on number one ranked Midwestern State. Once again, the Wildcats rose to the challenge and left Wichita Falls with the win, 85-72, snapping Midwestern’s eleven game winning streak and tying the two teams for first place.
The Wildcats finished out the season strong as they went 4-1 in their last five games. In the final game of the season, the Wildcats defeated Texas A&M Kingsville, 92-53, at home to secure ACU’s ninth Lone Star Conference Championship. The Wildcats finished the season with a 21-5 record, 16-4 LSC record.
Despite a remarkable regular season, ACU was knocked out of the first round of the LSC post season tournament by No. 7 Texas A&M Commerce, 80-79. On Sunday, Mar. 10, the Wildcats were informed that they were selected into the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament in Colorado. The Lady ‘Cats took on No.4 Texas-Permian Basin and lost in the closing seconds, 70-68, to close out their amazing season.
“We’ve been so blessed with our fans, coaches, players and everyone else this season and it’s truly shown in how we’ve played this year,” senior Kelsey Smith said. “I’m so proud of this team and everything we have accomplished.”
The Wildcats will look to continue their success in the Division I Southland Conference next year. The switch to Division I will prove to be a challenge, but that won’t stop the Wildcats.
“This season was unforgettable,” Smith said. “I can’t imagine ending my basketball career on a better note than I did this year.”
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