Twenty-point nights from guard Amara Wainwright and center Rebekah VanDijk were not enough Thursday night for UT Arlington to get past Arkansas State, which stayed undefeated in Sun Belt Conference play with a 78-71 win at College Park Center.
Wainwright hit 3-pointer after 3-pointer to keep the Mavericks (7-9, 2-4 Sun Belt) in it, and VanDijk came on strong in the fourth quarter when UTA refused to go away, but Arkansas State’s athletic advantage on the perimeter sealed the win.
Forward Khadi Brown-Haywood led all scorers with 29 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. The Sun Belt’s second-leading scorer, Aundrea Gamble, added 17 points and seven assists.
“We just fought,” UTA coach Krista Gerlich said. “Some turnovers late hurt us, but we always fought back. They won’t get discouraged because we as a coaching staff won’t let them.”
Each of Wainwright’s six 3-pointers seemed to come at bigger and bigger moments. In the midst of a 19-2 Arkansas State (13-3, 7-0) run at the end of the first quarter, her second 3-pointer with 35 seconds left kept the Mavs within striking distance, down 21-15 after one.
Her fourth pulled UTA to within four points, down 44-40 early in the third. Her sixth connection from 3-point range came with 5:40 left in the game and gave the Mavericks one last chance to make a comeback effort, but it ultimately came up short.
But it wasn’t the best shooting display UTA has seen this season. Senior point guard LaShanda Green hit seven in a 68-63 home loss to Georgia State on Dec. 30.
“We’re close. We had better effort from more players [Thursday],” Wainwright said. “We turn around a couple things, we’ll be winning games like this instead of being close.”
UTA has another quick Sun Belt turnaround before it hosts defending Sun Belt champion Arkansas Little Rock on Saturday.