The ACU Wildcats rallied from as many as 10 points down in the second half Monday to knock off Arkansas-Fort Smith, 70-66, in the West Texas Golf Cars WT Christmas Classic at the First United Bank Center on the West Texas A&M campus.
The win pushes ACU to 5-2 on the season, while Fort Smith falls to 3-6. ACU will be back in action Tuesday when it takes on Emporia State (Kan.) at 4 p.m. in its second game of the Christmas Classic.
ACU trailed 27-23 at halftime and the Lady Lions were able to extend their lead to 10 points (35-25) with 17:17 left after Danielle McFadden hit a short jumper. But over the next 5:05 of clock time, the Wildcats outscored Fort Smith, 14-2, behind the strong play the ACU bench.
Junior guard Savannah Smith hit a pair of 3-pointers in the run, while Whitney West added four points and Emily Miller and Paige Parliament two apiece in the run that gave the Wildcats the lead. West gave ACU a 39-37 with 12:12 left in the contest when she hit a jumper.
ACU's reserves continued to stretch the lead as Parliament hit a layup on a pass from Savannah Smith to make it a 43-37 game at the 11:24 mark, and then Savannah Smith hit another 3- pointer with 9:52 left to push the ACU lead to 46-39.
Fort Smith was able to close to within 46-44 with 9:08 to play, but ACU again responded with a 13-4 run to push the lead back to 11 points (59-48) with 5:55 to play. Kynzie Newman and Whiteny West each 3-pointers in the run, while Sadie Dickinson and Kelsey Smith added old-fashioned three-point plays to help give ACU the separation it needed down the stretch.
Fort Smith was able to cut the lead to 68-66 with 13 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Katie BenAmor, but Kelsey Smith calmly buried a pair of free throws with four seconds left to give the Wildcats a 70-66 win.
Renata Marquez led the Wildcats with 15 points, while Kelsey Smith had 13 and Savannath Smith a career-high 12 points. Newman added three points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats, who out-rebounded Fort Smith, 57-50.
Information provided by ACU athletics department.