Th UT Arlington women’s basketball team will renew its rivalry with Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday in a matchup that pits former conference foes against one another and also pits the Mavericks against their third defending conference champion of the young season.
SFA won the Southland Conference tournament last year, and earned two of its four wins this season at a tournament hosted by Missouri-Kansas City.
The Ladyjacks (4-1) — who lead the all-time series against UTA 58-15 and have won 23 of 28 matchups in Nacogdoches — are led by the backcourt duo of Taylor Ross and Brentney Branch.
The Mavericks (2-3) will look to slow down SFA’s uptempo offense with a defense that has become the signature of Krista Gerlich’s team. UTA has held opponents to just 54 points per game through the first five contests.
“We will have to guard without fouling, and then just control the boards,” Gerlich said. “We have been pretty successful holding higher-powered offenses below their average.”
That defensive intensity starts with sophomore guard Cierra Johnson, who leads all Sun Belt players with 3.8 steals per game.
“She is very confident on defense and provides us a spark on the defensive end,” Gerlich said. “She is starting to see that she can be just as confident on the offensive end.”
Senior post Toma Zaleckaite will be a game-time decision after she injured a knee in the second game of the season. Gerlich will be back on the bench after a two-game suspension levied by UTA for breaking an undisclosed school policy.
UTA women at Stephen F. Austin
7 p.m. Tuesday