MONROE, Louisiana – ULM overcame a charging UT Arlington in the final minutes to sweep the season series in Sun Belt Conference play, defeating the Lady Mavericks 56-51 at the Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
The Lady Mavericks (9-8, 3-5) outscored the Warhawks (7-10, 3-7) 34-30 in the second half, but with the teams tied at 46-46, ULM closed the game by outscoring UTA 10-5 to hand the Lady Mavs their second consecutive loss. ULM finished with a 23-7 advantage from the free-throw line, hitting a crucial seven in the final minutes.
“I am very proud of how hard we fought,” UT Arlington coach Krista Gerlich said. “I thought our effort was much better and we battled but we are still lacking confidence in our shots. We beat them all over the stat sheet except for the free-throw line and we can’t send them there 29 times.”
Freshman Rebekah Van Dijk led all scorers with a career-high 20 points, but the team’s second highest scoring effort of the season was not enough. The Warhawks made their final five free-throws and UTA was unable to hit a 3-pointer in the final minutes, missing three of its final four attempts.
“We just weren’t mentally tough enough to go in there and finish,” Gerlich said. “I thought Rebekah was incredible. Her stat line was amazing especially compared to the senior that was guarding her.”
Van Dijk finished 9-for-16 from the field to best a 19-point game the freshman had against South Alabama on Jan. 3.
The Lady Mavericks continue their two-game trip on Saturday when they travel to face league-leader UALR at 5 p.m.
UTA’s defense stifled its opponent early, but the offense was unable to come around in the first half to take advantage. UTA opened with a 3-pointer from Amara Wainwright to start the game and went cold to finish the half. UTA shot just 29.6 from the field in the opener with Rebekah Van Dijk leading with 6 points.
ULM jumped into its first lead with 11:57 in the half off a 3-pointer of its own and continued to run to take a 17-11 advantage into the final minutes of the first.
The Lady Mavs made a short response to bring the game back within two points, but the Warhawks responded to close the half strong. ULM ended with a 9-2 run to head into the break up 26-17.
UTA responded to ULM’s run to end the half with a hot start to the second. The Lady Mavs overcame an 11-point deficit with a run to charge into the lead.
Wainwright connected on two 3-pointers to reach a career-high 11 points and UTA’s defense forced ULM into turnovers on four consecutive possessions.
The teams exchanged leads three times in the final 10 minutes of the game and 11 times overall without either team breaking more than a four-point advantage until the final minutes.