For the second straight game, UT Arlington let a late lead dissipate into a disappointing loss.
Two nights after losing to Georgia State in a similar fashion, the Mavericks couldn’t hold an eight-point lead and fell to last-place Troy 55-54 Saturday night at College Park Center.
“This ‘disease of me’ has crept up on this team,” coach Scott Cross said. “We are broken as a team.”
The Trojans (8-12, 3-8 Sun Belt) didn’t flinch at UTA’s double-digit halftime lead, storming back to within 37-36. And when UTA (12-9, 6-5) opened it back up to 47-39, the Trojans tied it with a 10-2 run with just under four minutes to play.
The Mavericks didn’t recover. Even after Lonnie McClanahan made two free throws to give them a 53-52 lead, the Trojans came right back and won the game when Kelton Ford made two free throws with three seconds to go.
“[If] you hold a team to 32 percent shooting, you’re supposed to win the game,” Cross said.
The Trojans were 20 of 25 from the free-throw line, and UTA attempted just 12 free throws.
The Mavericks built a 32-22 lead at the half by holding Troy to just five baskets. Erick Neal put on an impressive display of court control, dishing out six assists in the first half.
Neal finished with seven assists on the night, and fellow freshman Kaelon Wilson had eight rebounds to lead the team.
The loss especially hurts with the Mavericks entering one of the most pivotal stretches of the season. They hit the road for three straight against teams that all reside within a game of UTA in the standings.
“It’s not going to get any easier for us,” Cross said. “We’ve got to do some soul-searching as a team.”