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March Madness: Women's basketball punches ticket to NCAA Championships

For the second time in as many nights Abilene Christian athletics will play host to a NCAA basketball selection show Monday, March 18, on the Brown Family Club Level of Wildcat Stadium. All fans are welcome to watch the ESPN-produced telecast with the team and coaches. Doors open to the club level at 5 p.m. with the show starting at 6 p.m.
Sunday the men’s basketball team found out it will face sixth-ranked and second-seeded Kentucky Thursday at 6:10 p.m. in Jacksonville, Fla., and tonight the women’s team will discover its first-round opponent and location. The date of the Wildcats’ first-round game either will be Friday, March 22 or Saturday, March 23.
The women’s team, led by seventh-year head coach Julie Goodenough, punched its ticket to the NCAA Championships during its second year of D1 eligibility after defeating eighth-seeded Central Arkansas, top-seeded and No. 20 mid-major Lamar, and fifth-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi over three consecutive days at the Southland Conference Tournament hosted by the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.
A 25-year coaching veteran, Goodenough has guided four collegiate programs to a variety of postseason tournaments but this will be her first appearance at a NCAA DI Championship event. Her first two teams (1994-95) at Hardin-Simmons University advanced to the NAIA Tournament, while her last four (1999-02) made it as far as the NCAA DIII Elite Eight or Sweet 16.
Several years later Goodenough brought Charleston Southern to a pair of WBI Tournaments (2010, 2012) in three years, and with the Wildcats she’s been to one NCAA DII Regional (2013) and two WNITs (2016-17) after winning consecutive Southland Conference regular-season titles.
The Wildcats enter this week with a 23-9 record, which is their fourth 20-win campaign since Goodenough’s arrival in 2012. She has won 144 games with ACU and 433 in her decorated career.
ACU lost only two players (one starter) from last year’s team that went 16-14, and the experience cast of veterans that returned for this championship campaign set several DI era team season records starting with most points (2,377). They also set new standards for field goals made (845), assists (544) and defensive rebounds (815), and currently hold the record for highest field goal percentage (845-1815, .466).
Junior guard scored her 1,000th point Saturday vs. Lamar – as part of a record-breaking 16-16 effort from the free-throw line – and earlier in the year she became the Wildcats’ DI era leader for most assists with 406, while senior Sara Williamson has played the most DI games at ACU with 124. Williamson this season also posted two point / assist double-doubles in wins over Central Arkansas (22/10) and Incarnate Word (12/12).
ACU’s assist total ranks 13th in the nation. The Wildcats additionally are a top-25 team in field-goal percentage (15th) and rebound margin (24th), and after this weekend’s tournament run they moved into the NCAA top-40 in 3-pointers attempted (786), made (259) and per game (8.1).
Wright went 22-23 (.957) from the free-throw line at Katy to jump to 19th in the nation and second in the Southland Conference. Williamson’s 15 assists at the tournament gives her 156 for the year, which is good for 41st in the nation.
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