The UT Arlington women had their first win of the season in sight late in Sunday’s game against Virginia Commonwealth.
But turnovers on critical possessions and missed free throws down the stretch led to a heartbreaking 74-63 overtime loss to VCU at College Park Center.
“I still can’t get over it. I really thought this was our game,” senior center Desherra Nwanguma said.
Nwanguma had her best game of the young season against VCU (4-1), registering a double-double and leading all scorers with 21 points, while grabbing 14 rebounds.
“She was a beast inside, like we need her to be,” UTA coach Krista Gerlich said. “We have to take positives from this, and she was a huge positive for us [Sunday].”
UTA (0-6) took control early, behind the outside shooting of guard Allea Harris. Harris scored nine points in the first five minutes as UTA built a quick 15-6 lead.
The freshman from Argyle finished with 19 points and seven boards.
But UTA turnovers in the middle of the first half let VCU back in the game. Freshman forward Allyson Te’o, who finished with 11 points, hit a putback in the lane as time expired in the first half to give the Mavs a 33-30 lead at the break.
The Mavericks, however, managed just nine field goals in the second half and overtime as VCU sent defenders flying at UTA ball-handlers with trapping pressure in the second half. The Mavs turned the ball over 28 times, while the UTA defense forced just 12 turnovers from the Rams.
After a post-entry pass to Nwanguma fell out of bounds on the final possession of regulation with the score tied 57-57, VCU ran away with the win in the overtime period.
Robyn Parks sprinted ahead and cashed in a layup off the opening overtime tip, which sparked the Rams’ decisive 13-3 run. Parks led VCU with 19 points and 14 rebounds in the win. Isis Thorpe added 18.
“That shell-shocked us off the tip, and it kind of put us back on our heels,” Gerlich said. “We really fought hard for 40 minutes and gave ourselves a chance to win. We just have to figure out that we’re allowed to win; that we can win.”
The Mavs will have another chance to solve the riddle Wednesday when they face Abilene Christian at College Park Center.