At home, the last thing UTA thought it would have trouble with was scoring points.
But in the first half of an NIT quarterfinal game against CSU Bakersfield, the Mavericks top three scorers combined for two baskets.
Kevin Hervey, Erick Neal and Jorge Bilbao were a combined 2-for-11, and UTA trailed 45-29 at halftime on the way to an 80-76 loss on Wednesday night at College Park Center, where they hadn’t lost all season.
Or likely, shot so poorly.
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Every kind of shot the Mavericks liked, from drives to 3-pointers, found rim more often than net.
Hervey’s only basket of the first half was an alley-oop dunk. Neal’s lone first-half score, a 3-pointer, cut the lead to 40-29.
But Bakersfield closed the half with five points, including Dedrick Basile’s 3-pointer off one leg at the horn.
The Mavericks’ scoring problems weren’t confined to one or two players, however. As a team, UTA went 11-for-30 in the first 20 minutes.
The lack of scoring punch left the Mavericks with too much room to make up in the second half, ending their most successful season at 27-9.
But they came close, forcing the Roadrunners to make free throws with five seconds left to prevent a game-tying or winning shot.
Wednesday’s loss was a disappointing finish to a day in which three Mavericks earned recognition from the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Scott Cross, at the helm of the most successful season in UTA history, was selected the District 24 Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Kevin Hervey was named a first-team all-district player by the NABC, the first UTA player to receive that honor.
Erick Neal earned second-team all-district honors for a second consecutive season.
Cross, a 1998 UTA graduate, led the Mavericks to a 27-9 record and its farthest advancement into any basketball postseason, reaching the NIT quarterfinals. UTA also won the regular season Sun Belt Conference championship.
Hervey, a 6-foot-7 junior forward from Arlington, averaged 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds this season and was named Sun Belt player of the year.
Neal, a guard from Dallas, is second in career assists at UTA and averaged 6.6 this season.