ARLINGTON, Texas – UT Arlington nearly pulled off an unbelievable comeback in Saturday night’s first-place showdown with Little Rock. The Mavericks, down as many as 28 points, were trailing by just four points in the final two minutes before one of the largest crowds in College Park Center history.
UTA couldn’t complete the rally, as the Trojans held on for a 68-62 victory in the first meeting of the season between the two teams with the best records in the Sun Belt.
The Mavericks dropped to 14-4 overall and 5-2 in conference after their first loss at home this season. The Trojans (17-2, 7-1) strengthened their hold on the league’s top spot.
Playing for the first time since learning leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Hervey was lost for the season, UTA fell behind big early and was never able to fully recover. Little Rock opened the game with 18-0 lead and went into halftime up 42-14.
UTA opened the second half with a 7-0 burst and trimmed the deficit to 17 with 10 minutes left. The Trojans would extend the lead again before UTA made a furious rally in the last few minutes.
A three-point play from Faith Pope pull the Mavs within nine (60-51) with 2:23 left. Kennedy Eubanks nailed two free throws with 1:53 remaining to make it 60-53. Erick Neal drilled a long 3-pointer 10 seconds later to make it 60-56.
The Mavs didn’t get any closer than four for the remainder of the game and Little Rock closed out its second consecutive win.
Eubanks had 14 points, leading the Mavs in scoring for the second consecutive game. Neal and Drew Charles each scored 12. Neal dished out eight assists.
Josh Hagins led a Little Rock attack with 20 points.