Freshmen Rebekah Van Dijk and Cierra Johnson led the UT Arlington women to a 57-45 victory over Georgia State on Thursday at College Park Center.
“It’s very much a sigh of relief,” said UTA coach Krista Gerlich, whose Mavericks had lost three straight and six of its past seven games.
Van Dijk led the Mavericks (10-9, 4-6 Sun Belt) with 12 points of her 16 points in the second half as UTA pulled away. Johnson, a Hurst L.D. Bell grad, finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
Van Dijk, a 6-foot-5 center from Nazareth, drew three fouls from Panthers center Brittney Logan, who fouled out on a technical foul with 16:11 to play.
With Logan gone, the middle opened up for Van Dijk. After forcing the defense to honor her jump shot in the first half with two spot-up baskets, Van Dijk’s layup with 5:56 left put the Mavericks comfortably in front 54-27.
“It makes me better, going against players like [Logan],” Van Dijk said. “She’s big and strong inside.”
The Mavericks held Georgia State (8-11, 3-7) to six points in the first 14 minutes of play and only four field goals in the first half.
Panthers forward Morgan Jackson scored five points as part of a 9-2 run, but UTA guard Krioni Bruce hit a long 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give the Mavericks momentum and a 25-15 lead.
“That shot that [Bruce] hit really gave us some life going into the second half with confidence,” Gerlich said.
The Mavericks built a 27-point lead late in the second half before Georgia State outscored UTA 18-3 to pull within 12.
The Mavericks shot 44.2 percent for the game, their best shooting performance since hitting 44.4 percent in a Dec. 17 victory over Division III McMurry.
UTA plays Troy at 5 p.m. Saturday at College Park Center.