ACU earns first Southland postseason win by defeating #6 UNO, 88-66

ACU WBB Southland tourney.jpg

In their first-ever Southland Conference postseason tournament, ACU women's basketball outscored New Orleans 58-37 in the second half en route to an 88-66 win over the sixth-seed Privateers Thursday afternoon at the Merrell Center.

The win pushes ACU (16-13) into Friday’s second round contest against third seed Central Arkansas.

“I’m really proud of our team,” said Abilene Christian coach Julie Goodenough. “We’ve been tabbed as the sixth-youngest team in America and I think that we’ve started growing up a little bit.”

Looking nothing like a team that came to Katy having lost five of their last six, the Wildcats more resembled the team that opened the regular season with a 6-0 start while averaging more than 80 points per game.

All-conference third team guard Breanna Wright led the offense with 23 points and added eight assists as the Wildcats shot 62.5 percent from the field (20 of 36) in the second half. Wright scored 16 of her points in the second half, including two of her four treys.

“We just had a lot of fun on the court today,” said Wright.

ACU also received big contributions from Dominique Golightly, who added 22 points and four rebounds while forward Sierra Allen scored 16 points and pulled down six boards. The Wildcats assisted on 21 of their 32 field goals, with Sara Williamson delivering seven assists to go along with her 11 points.

The ACU defense did its job in containing New Orleans (15-15) senior guard Randi Brown, who scored 18 points but was held to 8-for-21 shooting. Brown, who led the conference with 22.1 points per game, managed to connect on only one of her seven attempts from beyond the arc.

“We came here with the focus that we’re playing against the leading scorer in the conference,” said Goodenough. “I think for the most part, the players were locked in and keyed on her. We tried to make other players on their team beat us.”

Leading 30-29 at intermission, the Wildcats opened the second half with a 10-2 run on the strength of consecutive treys from Golightly and Breanna Wright to extend their lead to 40-31 with 8:08 left in the third. The ACU advantage moved to 45-33 before the Privateers began to find an offensive rhythm behind the shooting of Jada Swafford and Randi Brown.

Brown’s layup preceded her three-pointer as part of a run that allowed New Orleans to reach within 48-42 but Abilene Christian shook off the Privateers’ spurt with one of their own, capped by a three-pointer from Wright that helped the Wildcats to eventually extend the lead to 59-46 entering the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats were able to shoot 46 percent from beyond the arc, hitting 12 of their 26 attempts from deep.

ACU will now face a Sugar Bears team who swept ACU in the regular season, but shared the regular season conference title with in 2017. Tip time from the Merrell Center on Friday is set for 1:30 p.m. CT.

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