UT Arlington’s struggles from the free-throw line have been a hot-button issue for second-year coach Krista Gerlich all season.
But Monday’s 70-63 loss at Troy was the first time missed free throws actually cost the Mavericks (8-4, 2-1 Sun Belt). UTA went 11 for 21 from the line in the seven-point loss to bring the Mavericks’ season average down to 58.9 percent, last in the Sun Belt.
The Mavericks will look to bounce back from the line and on offense in general Thursday against Louisiana-Monroe (5-6, 0-2) at College Park Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.
“We’ve got good kids, and I know they’re mentally tough,” Gerlich said. “They’re just not showing it from the free-throw line right now.”
As more and more opponents try to clog up the middle of the floor defensively against the Mavericks, and try to limit the impact of freshman center Rebekah Van Dijk, the onus offensively moves to the team’s shooters. UTA shot only 32.8 percent against Troy, and, if not for point guard LaShanda Green’s 5-for-8 night from 3-point range, UTA would have made only 3 of 22 from long range.
“We’re going to have to do several things,” Gerlich said of her offense. “When they pack the lane, we’re going to have to move Rebekah around so it’s not as easy to double-team, and we’ve got to get in passing lanes and create some havoc defensively so we can turn extra possessions into easy baskets.”
La.-Monroe’s primary scoring threat is senior center Sharnice Brooks, who comes into the game averaging 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Brooks had 19 and eight in the first matchup between these schools last season in an 84-67 win for the Warhawks.
For Gerlich and the Mavericks, getting a bounce-back win in the middle of a stretch of five Sun Belt games in 10 days could get the team back on track.
“Clearly, anytime we play at home, we’ve got to get the win,” Gerlich said. “We’ve got to fight the physical fatigue and the mental fatigue. We can’t have a nosedive here; can’t let this snowball and derail us.”
Louisiana-Monroe at UTA women
5 p.m. Thursday, College Park Center, Arlington
Records: Louisiana-Monroe 5-6, 0-2 Sun Belt; UTA 8-4, 2-1