UT Arlington has had 10 days to get ready for Sunday’s matchup at UTA’s College Park Center against Western Kentucky, the fourth defending conference champion the Mavericks will face in nonconference play.
Western Kentucky (4-2) won Conference USA last season and is led this year by guard Kendall Noble, the conference’s returning defensive player of the year.
Mavs coach Krista Gerlich said earlier in the season that scheduling tougher opponents was a conference-wide strategy among Sun Belt teams to improve the conference’s RPI ranking.
To that end, UTA (3-4) is certainly doing its part. The Mavericks have lost to Baylor and Seton Hall, and beat Stephen F. Austin, the defending Southland conference champion, in Nacogdoches this season.
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UTA and WKU have hung their hats on defense this season as Western Kentucky is giving up fewer than 65 points per game. The Mavs are giving up just 56.3 points per game.
The Mavericks will have to stop the scoring trio of Noble (15.3 points per game), guard Tashia Brown (13.7 points) and forward Ivy Brown (10.8 points) as they look to rebound from a 61-41 loss to Kansas State on Dec. 3.
“They have a great point guard in Kendall Noble,” Gerlich said. “We are familiar with her, but they lack a little size, so we hope to have an advantage there.”
Western Kentucky has won both of the games in the all-time series between the two schools, with both coming during the 2013-14 season before WKU moved from the Sun Belt to Conference USA.
UTA women vs. W. Kentucky
2 p.m. Sunday