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ACU women drop first Southland game of the year to Stephen F. Austin

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ABILENE, TX - For the ACU Wildcats, Thursday night's 70-61 loss to Stephen F. Austin in Moody Coliseum was simply a case of too little, too late.

The Wildcats hit just five shots from the field in the first half, trailed 32-17 at halftime and fell behind by as many as 21 points in the third quarter before a fourth-quarter rally got them to within five points with 60 seconds to play. But the Lady Jacks were able to hit four straight free throws down the stretch to hold off the Wildcats in a battle of Southland Conference unbeaten.

The loss snaps ACU's 11-game Southland Conference winning streak as the Wildcats fell to 9-7 overall and 3-1 in the league. The Lady Jacks, meanwhile, remain in first place in the Southland Conference at 13-2 and 4-0. ACU will be back in action Saturday at 2 p.m. when it hosts Southland Conference co-leader Lamar, which improved to 4-0 in the league Thursday night with a 68-41 home win over Incarnate Word.

SFA led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter rand still led 66-53 with 2:46 to play after a pair of free throws by Adrienne Lewis. But ACU freshman guard Dominique Golightly hit a 3-pointer before Breanna Wright hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 66-58 with 2:08 to play. After a pair of missed 3-pointers and a pair of offensive rebounds, Lizzy Dimba buried a 3-pointer with 1:02 to play to cut the SFA lead to 66-61.

Forced to foul, the Wildcats sent Stevi Parker to the line with 20 seconds to play and Ross to the line with eight seconds to play and they were 4 for 4 at the line to finish it off.

SFA dominated Thursday night's game in the paint, outscoring ACU 36-14 and blocking five Wildcat shots. ACU won the rebounding battle, 36-35, but it wasn't enough to overcome a night when the Wildcats hit just 18 of 60 shots from the field, including 10 of 34 from 3-point range, their second-most attempts in a game this season.

The Lady Jacks wasted little time asserting themselves, jumping out auto a 14-5 lead in the game's first five minutes behind eight points from SFA point guard Taylor Ross, who finished the opening quarter with 10 points on her way to a monster performance: 18 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and six steals in 31 minutes.

SFA led 18-8 at the end of the first quarter and then outscored the Wildcats 7-2 in the first five minutes of the second quarter to push its lead to 15 points (25-10). Brentney Branch hit a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left in the half to give SFA a 32-15 lead, and that's where the score stood at the half.

The third quarter was more of the same as SFA kept its lead between 14-21 points before settling for an 18-point lead (54-36) at the end of the quarter. That set up ACU's early fourth-quarter run that turned the blowout into a close contest at the end of the game.

Branch led the Lady Jacks in scoring with 19 points, followed by 18 from Ross, 17 from Adrienne Lewis and 10 from Parker. Suzzy Dimba -- who had a career-high 28 points in last Saturday's win over Central Arkansas -- had 20 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one block and three steals before fouling out. Lizzy Dimba had 15 points and six rebounds, while Alexis Mason had 10 points.

ACU NOTES

-- Lizzy Dimba's 3-pointer with 1:02 left in the game gave her 1,001 career points.

-- Alexis Mason became ACU's all-time leader in 3-point attempts in the game, finishing the night 2 of 12 from 3-point range and giving her 715 career attempts. The previous record was 706 and was held by Mason's former teammate, Whitney (West) Swinford, who played for the Wildcats from 2012-16.

-- Mason's two 3-pointers give her 236 career 3-pointers, leaving her four away from breaking the career record of 239, set by Ashley King, who played from 2002-06.

-- The loss snapped ACU's 14-game Southland Conference home-court winning streak.

-- ACU's last Southland Conference home loss was a 73-58 loss to Lamar on Feb. 5, 2015.

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