Heading into Christmas break, the UT Arlington women’s basketball team can breathe a sigh of relief.
The Mavericks played their best game of the season Saturday, going on a 26-0 first-half run and hanging on for their first win of the season, 75-64 over Texas A&M Corpus Christi at College Park Center.
“It really is a matter of just getting over the hump,” UTA coach Krista Gerlich said. “Now they know what it takes to win, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. They learned to weather some storms out there.”
The win comes in the last game of the nonconference schedule. Sun Belt Conference play begins with the new year.
The Mavericks (1-10) were led by guard Chauntandra Williams and forward Briana Walker in the first half. UTA got its biggest lead of the game, going up 32-16 on Williams’ 3-pointer with 3:55 left to play in the first half.
UTA held the Islanders scoreless for a stretch of 10 minutes in the first half after falling behind 14-3 to start the game. Walker drove left for her first score with 15:30 remaining and ignited a 26-0 run. The Mavericks led 35-24 at halftime.
“Coach told us that we could win if we would just play some defense,” Williams said. “We just came together and played solid team defense for the rest of the half.”
Walker led all scorers with 23 points and had 13 in the first half. She also pulled down 10 rebounds. Williams finished with 14 and hit four 3-pointers. Point guard Laila Suleiman heated up late for 16 points, four assists and two steals.
In the second half, the Islanders (6-4) put together a 10-0 run, ignited by the 3-point shooting of Brittany Mbamalu, who finished with a team-high 20 points. But the Mavericks countered with timely shooting by Suleiman and Malaika Green, whose 3-pointer with 13:20 gave UTA a 52-40 lead.
Green added a baseline 3-pointer with 1:30 left in regulation that helped seal the victory by ending a 14-7 Islanders’ run and giving the Mavericks a 70-62 lead.