Junior transfer Christina Devers scored 21 points and junior Cierra Johnson had seven steals as the UT Arlington women opened their season with a 75-54 victory over UTSA at College Park Center on Sunday afternoon.
UTA was 11 of 27 (40.7 percent) on 3-point shots and was 27-of-64 (42 percent) on all shots. The Mavericks forced 24 UTSA turnovers, leading to 31 points. UTA had only four turnovers in the second half after 12 in the first two quarters.
Johnson, from Hurst L.D. Bell, also had 16 points and eight rebounds.
UTA led 22-10 after the opening quarter but the Roadrunners (0-2) stormed back and cut the deficit to 45-44 entering the third quarter. UTA guard Lauren Billie hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the first minute of the fourth quarter and the Mavs outscored the visitors 30-10 in the final 10 minutes.
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“Really proud of these two [Johnson and Devers],” UTA coach Krista Gerlich said. “We knew that they were going to be lethal and they are going to continue to be.”
Gerlich didn’t seem to mind that her players were challenged to win.
“It was fun to see them have to get it up and extend to win the game,” she said. “They didn't panic and there were some definite times that they could have lost their confidence, but they really stepped to what we were trying to do. Then showed a lot of emotion at the end of the game to get the W.”
Gerlich acknowledged that freshman point guard Ericka Mattingly was thrown “into the fire a little bit by starting her. She handled it really well.”
Junior Miranda LeJune came in behind Mattingly and had a career-high nine assists.
“I was super proud of Miranda for coming in and giving us that calm effect and that experience,” Gerlich said.
UTA plays at Western Kentucky at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Big 12 men
Oklahoma 97, Northwestern State 61: Junior forward Khadeem Lattin had a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds and the new-look Sooners routed the Demons (0-2) in the Sooners’ season opener. The only other returning starter from last season’s Final Four team, Jordan Woodard, added 16 points for Oklahoma (1-0).
Big 12 women
No. 16. Oklahoma 80, Southern Illinois 48: Vionise Pierre-Louis had 18 points and six rebounds, Gioya Carter added 16 points and eight boards, and the host Sooners used a big second half to beat the Salukis in a season opener. Oklahoma led only 38-32 at halftime.
Texas Tech 90, North Dakota 80: Sophomore guard Recee Caldwell scored a career-high 28 points, and the host Lady Raiders (1-0) had a school-record 33 points in the first quarter. Tech forced the Fighting Hawks (0-2) into 21 turnovers.
Missouri State 87, Kansas 64: The visiting Lady Bears (1-0) ran off a 32-12 margin in the fourth quarter.
Top 25 men
No. 2 Kentucky 93, Canisius 69: Isaiah Briscoe and De’Aaron Fox each scored a career-high 21 points and the Wildcats (2-0) pulled away from the Golden Griffins (0-1) early in the second half.
No. 6 North Carolina 97, Chattanooga 57: Joel Berry II scored 18 points to help the Tar Heels (2-0) win their home opener. Greg Pryor scored 17 points for the Mocs (1-1), who won Friday at Tennessee.
SMU 91, Eastern Michigan 64: Semi Ojeleye had 18 points and eight rebounds, Jarrey Foster also put in 18 points, and the Mustangs (2-0) rolled past the Eagles (0-2).