More injury woes confronted the UT Arlington women on Thursday, but after the dust settled from the scrum against South Alabama at College Park Center, the Mavericks had won 53-49.
Starting forward Toma Zaleckaite was held out of Thursday’s win with a lingering knee issue. But UTA (15-14, 10-9 Sun Belt Conference) was able to avenge a 59-55 loss to USA in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 16.
Zaleckaite will also be held out of Saturday’s regular season finale with hopes of being ready for next week’s Sun Belt tournament.
Meanwhile, UTA starting guard Cierra Johnson’s foot injury will be re-evaluated Friday. The sophomore has been out for six games with a stress reaction, leaving the heavy lifting Thursday to senior Amara Wainwright & Co.
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Wainwright hit six 3-pointers for the third time this year and led all scorers with 22 points. She also had seven rebounds.
“Amara put us on her back,” UTA coach Krista Gerlich said. “We needed something and I looked at her and told her to take over. She hit a 3 her first possession back out there.”
But before Wainwright took center stage, South Alabama (15-14, 10-9) built momentum with a 15-0 second-quarter run. Guard Colby Davis followed up two 2-pointers with a 3-point play to tie the game 14-14 midway through the second.
8-0 Scoring run, all by Amara Wainwright, to give UTA its first lead of the second half, 36-34.
The Jaguars led 25-19 at halftime after UTA had held South Alabama to just 2-of-12 shooting in the game’s first 13 minutes.
The third quarter, though, belonged to Wainwright. The senior knocked down three of her six 3-pointers and went on a personal 8-0 run to give the Mavericks their first lead of the second half, 36-34 with 1:30 left in the third.
She scored 11 of the Mavs’ 21 points in the third, and UTA took a slim 40-39 lead into the fourth. The Mavericks built on that lead with strong play from Morgan Holly and Rebekah VanDijk, who moved into fifth all time on the UTA blocked shots list with three against South Alabama.
UTA’s LaShanda Green hit two free throws with 10 seconds left to seal the win.
UTA will face Troy in Saturday’s regular season finale at College Park Center, where a win will net the Mavs the 5-seed in the conference tournament.