ARLINGTON, Texas – UT Arlington and Troy battled for 40 minutes on Saturday night at College Park Center. The difference came down to a blocked 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded for the Lady Mavericks to escape with a thrilling 70-67 win in Sun Belt Conference play.
The Lady Mavs (11-9, 5-6) used their best shooting performance of the season at 52.1 percent to earn back-to-back wins and sweep a two-game homestand. Freshman Rebekah Van Dijk earned her 10th double-double of the season on her birthday and scored 10 of her team-high 19 points in the final five minutes of the game.
“I am so proud of our girls,” UT Arlington coach Krista Gerlich said. “That is the biggest win since I have been here. They did a nice job and I told them to not back down. I am really proud of this young team.”
Van Dijk picked up a game-high 12 rebounds and was joined by Cierra Johnson, who had 10, as players with double-digit rebounding in the contest. Johnson fell a late-free throw short of a double-double, which would have been the team’s first outside of Van Dijk’s this season.
UTA turned the ball over 31 times in the game, the most under Gerlich in her two years with the program, but were able to slow down Troy’s speed down the court and allowed just 17 points off of turnovers.
“We just played better as a team and handled their transition,” Van Dijk said. “Last time we played them we were surprised when they ran the floor. We got back and stopped them and didn’t let them score in transition.”
Junior LaShanda Green scored 14 points and picked up a career-high three blocks – UTA had eight overall in
the game. Junior Toma Zalackaite had a career-high 12 points, her first double-digit scoring performance of the season.
UTA had 19 turnovers in the first but were able to build up a double-digit lead. The Lady Mavs went on a 14-0 run to break an 11-11 tie that was helped by five points from Cierra Johnson. Zalackaite converted on back-to-back jumpers and UTA found itself up 25-11 with 4:48 to go in the half.
The Trojans closed the gap by holding UTA scoreless for the remainder and went on a run of their own to score eight consecutive.
Zalackaite, breaking her career high in the first, had a team-high eight points to help UTA to a 25-21 halftime lead.
UTA and Troy would go back-and-forth through the early parts of the second as the Trojans were unable to answer any of UTA’s short runs.
The Lady Mavs built the lead back up to 10 with under four minutes to play before the Trojans got hot from beyond the arc.
Ashley Beverly-Kelley and Caitlyn Ramirez banked in 3-pointers to trim the advantage to just one-point for the Lady Mavs. Van Dijk answered with back-to-back buckets in transition and LaShanda Green knocked down a pair of free throws to give UTA its final three-point advantage.