ACU downs Zias behind 31 from freshman guard

CNJ staff

ABILENE, Texas — Freshman guard Mack Lankford scored 31 points and Abilene Christian led from start to finish Saturday en route to an 89-76 Lone Star Conference South Division women’s victory over Eastern New Mexico University.

Lankford poured in 10-of-19 shots from the field, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range, as the Wildcats (7-11, 4-2 South) won for the fourth time in their last five games. It was ACU’s 19th consecutive win over the Zias (4-14, 2-4), dating to an ENMU season sweep in the 2001-02 season.

Junior forward Precious Herrin scored 16 points for ENMU, while senior center Kara Bible and sophomore guard Krista Ford added 12 points apiece.

The Wildcats scored the game’s first five points, including a 3-pointer by Lankford, and led 10-3 two minutes into the game with the only points for ENMU coming on a 3-pointer by Bible.

Lankford added a free throw and a basket and Renata Marquez hit a pair of fouls shots to make it a 10-point game with just under five minutes gone.

Lankford connected again from 3-point range to make it 26-9 with 12 minutes left in the half before the Zias began to make a push. Three-pointers by Ford and senior Cat Clay cut the margin to nine points, and two free throws by guard Lace Clark made it 30-25 at the 6:50 mark.

But Cecilee Perez and Whitaker followed with consecutive 3-pointers to push the lead back into double figures, and ACU took a 47-32 lead into halftime.

ACU led twice by 19 early in the second half. The closest the Zias got after that was 87-76 on two free throws by junior guard Kiara Tate with 39 seconds remaining.

Whitaker added four 3-pointers and 16 points for ACU, while Perez chipped in 10 points off the bench. Sophomore center Kelsey Smith contributed eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Wildcats before fouling out with four minutes left.