Late turnovers for UT Arlington led to a 66-62 loss Thursday to Arkansas State in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams at College Park Center.
With the game tied 58-58 and 3:05 left to play, the Mavericks (1-11, 0-1) turned the ball over on three of their next four possessions to fall behind 64-60.
“You absolutely can’t have turnovers late in the game,” UTA coach Krista Gerlich said. “Especially when they go for points the other way, and I think all three of those turnovers did.”
The Mavs had played some of their best basketball of the season to build a 10-point lead, going up 50-40 after Allyson Te’o’s strong post move in the lane. That basket was part of UTA’s 13-2 run to open the second half, and Te’o finished with 12 points in the loss.
“Coach just told us that we just have to be intense,” UTA guard Tahlia Pope said. “Just keep guarding, keep executing, and good things will happen.”
Pope led the Mavs with 14 points, while center Desherra Nwanguma had 10 and added eight rebounds.
But after UTA’s run, Arkansas State (7-6, 1-0 Sun Belt) put together a 14-4 run over a period of 6 minutes to close the 10-point gap. Gerlich said fatigue after a 12-day layoff between games played a huge factor in allowing the Red Wolves back in the game.
“You spend so much energy trying to dig yourself out of a hole,” Gerlich said, “that sometimes you don’t have anything left to finish.”
And the Mavs found themselves in just such a hole to begin Thursday’s game.
The Red Wolves led 8-0 after the first 4 1/2 minutes. But steadily, UTA chipped away.
The Mavs took their first lead on Nwanguma’s turnaround move inside with 2:40 left in the first half.
UTA will host Arkansas Little Rock on Saturday at College Park Center.