With a treacherous stretch of five games in 12 days behind them, the UT Arlington Mavericks look to even their Sun Belt Conference record at Georgia State. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. Thursday in Atlanta.
The Mavs (8-6, 2-3 Sun Belt Conference) won their first two conference games as what was part of the team’s first five-game winning streak since 2009 before dropping their last three. UTA is coming off Saturday’s heartbreaking 80-77 overtime loss to conference favorite Arkansas State that saw the Red Wolves score the last seven points of regulation.
The Mavericks’ second-half effort Saturday brought the team back from an early 42-27 deficit. UTA scored 40 points in the half after coming into the game averaging just 55.8 per game in the previous nine.
“We’re going to bottle that [effort],” coach Krista Gerlich said after Saturday’s loss. “We’re still in the hunt, it’s super early in the season, and the message is that we have to give full-on effort every time we play and we can compete with anybody.”
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Georgia State (7-7, 2-3) is in a position very similar to the Mavs’, having run through its first five conference games in the same 10-day span as UTA did. Facing two common opponents, Georgia State beat Louisiana-Monroe 80-72 on Dec. 30 before dropping its final game in the stretch to Troy 96-87 on Saturday. The Mavs lost to both.
Both the Mavs and the Panthers depend on young scorers as well. Freshman center Rebekah Van Dijk had 16 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for the Mavericks against Arkansas State. Freshman guard Makeba Ponder leads Georgia State at 12.1 points per game and is shooting better than 41 percent from 3-point range.
Two of the Mavs’ three conference wins last season came at the hands of Georgia State, which was swept by UTA in Gerlich’s first year at the helm.
UTA women at
4 p.m. Thursday, Atlanta
Records: UTA 8-6, 2-3;
Georgia State 7-7, 2-3