ARLINGTON, Texas – UT Arlington couldn’t hold a second-half lead for the second consecutive game, falling to Troy 55-54 Saturday night at College Park Center.
The Mavericks dropped to 12-9 overall and 6-5 in the Sun Belt Conference. The Trojans (8-12, 3-8) swept the two-game season series.
“That was a heartbreaker,” UT Arlington coach Scott Cross said. “Our guys got tight in the second half, took some bad shot and missed them, and got nervous. They got a foul at the end of the game, and stepped up and made free throws. You have to give them credit for that.”
UTA opened the second half with a 10-point advantage and still had an eight-point edge (49-41) with six minutes left. The Troy took its final lead on pair of free throws from Kelton Ford with 3.0 seconds remaining.
The Mavericks had inched ahead on senior guard Lonnie McClanahan’s two free throws with 20.9 seconds on the clock. Ford went to the line after driving to the basket and getting a call against UTA forward Jorge Bilbao.
“It was unfortunate,” Cross said. “We worked hard to get a stop. They called a block on Jorge and it was probably the right call, but it didn’t come down to that.”
UTA had one final chance, but freshman guard Kaelon Wilson’s 3-pointer at
buzzer didn’t fall. The Mavs lost Thursday to Georgia State despite holding an 11-point second-half lead.
Senior forward Greg Gainey led the Mavericks with 15 points off the bench and added seven rebounds. McClanahan scored 10 and freshman guard Erick Neal set a new career high with seven assists.
The Mavericks had 32-22 lead at the half thanks in big part to the bench. UTA reserves accounted for 22 points, 12 rebounds and six assists (all from Neal) at the break.
Neal knocked down a 3-pointer and set up reserve center Anthony Walker on a pair of slams as the Mavericks took a 22-15 lead. Wilson’s jumper from beyond the arc gave UTA the 10-point lead at the half.
Troy was shooting just 21.7 percent (5-23) at the break and was outscored 14-4 in the paint.