For the UT Arlington women, it was a tale of two halves, and the second one cost them a possible conference win.
After UTA roared out to a double-digit lead in the first half, on the strength of 6-for-10 shooting from 3-point range, Louisiana Monroe broke open a close second half by scoring the game’s final 11 points in a 63-51 Sun Belt Conference game Thursday at College Park Center.
The Mavericks (8-5, 2-2 SBC) were plagued by late turnovers and a poor showing at the free throw line, where they were just 2 of 9. The Warhawks (6-6, 1-2) took advantage of three consecutive UTA turnovers in the closing stretch plus a 42-24 rebounding advantage to halt the Mavs’ three-game home winning streak.
“It makes no sense to me that we can make seven 3-pointers, 6-for-10 in the first half, but we can’t make a free throw,” UTA coach Krista Gerlich said. “Our team is in some kind of funk that I don’t know how to pull them out of, and I need to figure that out.”
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The funk was something of a second-half phenomenon as UTA had built a 30-19 advantage with 6:50 before halftime after guard LaShanda Green nailed her third of four 3-pointers in the half. But ULM whittled the margin to 36-32 by intermission after a steal and basket with 10 seconds left from Daja Chase, the game’s top scorer with 15 points.
UTA would score only 15 points in the second half on 7 of 27 shooting.
Green led UTA with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting from distance. The junior is now 9-for-15 shooting 3-pointers in the Mavericks’ last two games.
But the sailing wasn’t all smooth. Center Rebekah Van Dijk, guard Cierra Johnson and Chaun Williams off the bench each had two fouls before halftime.
Van Dijk was impressive when she was in the game but logged only 13 minutes before fouling out with eight points. Fellow post Morgan Holly picked up her third foul early in the second half, which forced Gerlich to depend on her bench for much of the second half.
“We’ve played multiple games this year going very deep into our bench,” Gerlich said. “We’re relying way too much on Rebekah right now, and we’ve got to have some other people step up.”
The Mavs are home again Saturday against Sun Belt-leading Arkansas State (9-5, 4-0) at 5 p.m.