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Tournament Time: Wildcats have two basketball teams in Southland spotlight

By on March 11, 2019 in ACU News, Sports with 0 Comments

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Senior forward Jaren Lewis leads the men's team in scoring and rebounding.
Senior forward Jaren Lewis leads the men's team in scoring and rebounding.

Abilene Christian University’s two resurgent basketball programs take another major step forward Friday when they play in the Southland Conference postseason tournament at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.

Both are looking for a league title and the Wildcats’ first-ever berth in Division I’s annual NCAA men’s and women’s March Madness tournament featuring the nation’s top teams. Southland tournament champions receive an automatic bid to the national tourney.

The No. 2-seeded men (25-6 overall, 14-4 in the Southland) and No. 4-seeded women (20-9 overall and 13-5 in the league) earned byes until Friday.

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Junior guard Breanna Wright spearheads the ACU women’s offense.
Junior guard Breanna Wright spearheads the ACU women’s offense.

Women’s head coach Julie Goodenough leads her team into a second-round game at 11 a.m. CST against the winner of a first-round game between No. 5 Sam Houston State and No. 8 Central Arkansas. UCA and Northwestern State have each won two league titles in the past five years.

Men’s head coach Joe Golding (’99) – named today the league’s men’s Coach of the Year – leads his team into the Southland semifinal at 8:30 p.m. CST. Stephen F. Austin State has won four of the last five league titles but did not make this year’s eight-team postseason field.

ACU’s women have won at least 20 games for the fourth time in seven years (23-9 in 2016-17, 26-4 in 2015-16 and 21-7 in 2012-13). Goodenough’s teams won Southland regular-season titles in 2015-16 and 2016-17, and received bids to the postseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament each time. They beat Oklahoma State in the WNIT first round before falling in the second round to SMU two seasons ago.

Golding’s team this year became the first in the 98-year history of ACU men’s basketball to win 25 regular-season games. Head coach Willard Tate’s 1979-80 team finished 27-5 and advanced to the second round of the NAIA Division I national tournament. The last ACU men’s team to win 20 games was head coach Jason Copeland’s 2007-08 team (20-9 overall).

Follow the Wildcats in postseason play on acu.today and acusports.com. Purchase tickets for the Southland tournament here.

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Ron Hadfield

About the Author

About the Author: Ron Hadfield is editor of ACU Today magazine and assistant vice president for university communication at Abilene Christian, where he began work in 1983 overseeing Creative Services at his alma mater.
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