ARLINGTON, Texas – UT Arlington won its fifth consecutive after knocking off South Alabama 59-49 in Sun Belt Conference play at College Park Center on Saturday night.
The Lady Mavericks (8-3, 2-0) ended a brief two-game home stand perfect, their first 2-0 start in conference play since the 2007-08 season. Freshman Rebekah Van Dijk returned to double figures with a career-high 19 points. UTA tied the all-time series with South Alabama at two games a piece with the win.
“I am excited about the outcome,” UT Arlington coach Krista Gerlich said. ” It is a great start for us, we have really been talking about protecting home court and we have a big road trip going to Troy. I do feel like we haven’t played very well these first two games, but I guess that is a bright spot. I feel like we have won without playing perfect or great and have lots of improvements to make.”
Van Dijk, also picking up a career-high with four blocks, helped UTA hold a big advantage down low as UTA outscored South Alabama 38-12 in the paint. The Lady Mavs also turned the Jaguars (3-8, 0-2) over 23 times to UTA’s 12.
The Lady Mavericks hit the road for the first time in conference play on
Monday when they travel to Troy. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
UTA opened and closed the first half strong to build up a double-digit lead at the break. Van Dijk scored four of the first eight points for the Lady Mavs as UTA’s edge inside the paint became their advantage. UTA raced to a 6-0 lead just 1:30 into the game but the Jaguars went on a 10-2 run to take a brief lead.
Amara Wainwright helped UTA bounce back quickly on a 3-pointer that brought momentum in favor of the Lady Mavs. Van Dijk, helping edge the Jaguars 24-4 in the paint in the first, scored a game-high 10 points and sent UTA into the break up 33-22 on a 16-2 run.
“We take a lot of time to prep defensively and help our kids understand what we want to take away from them,” Gerlich said of the team’s ability to hold its opponent scoreless during several runs. “Our kids are setting goals for themselves, some of them seeming outrageous, but they are getting it done. We have to continue to do that and make them go on dry spells.”
The Lady Mavs maintained a double-digit lead throughout much of the second half with each team exchanging buckets. However, the Jaguars closed the gap to six points with a late run.
South Alabama hit a 3-pointer and converted a free throw to make the game 54-48 with 3:50 remaining.
LaShanda Green would combine with Van Dijk to score UTA’s final five points of the contest with the Lady Mavs’ defense holding the Jaguars without a field goal for the final three minutes of play.