MBB: Defense is key as Mavs top Texas State
Jan. 18, 2014
SAN MARCOS, Texas - UT Arlington leaned on its defense for the first time this season to grind out a crucial 56-48 victory over longtime rival Texas State on Saturday afternoon at Strahan Coliseum.
The Mavericks (7-10) improved to 2-3 in the Sun Belt Conference and inched ahead of the Bobcats (5-13, 1-4) in the league standings. UTA has beaten Texas State five straight times dating back to both programs being in the Southland Conference.
The Mavericks won despite shooting 39 percent by clamping down defensively. Texas State was held to its season low in scoring and the Bobcats shot 32.1 percent.
"We took better shots in the second half," UT Arlington coach Scott Cross said. "That was the only thing we were doing wrong in the first half. We had some turnovers and took some bad shots.
"But guys stepped up and made some big plays, and this is the first game all year long we've won with defense. To hold them to 48 points, I couldn't be prouder of the guys. It was a hard-fought game. Our guys have been working so hard. They needed some success."
Senior guard Reger Dowell, back after missing two weeks with a thigh injury, led the Mavericks with 16 points. Junior guard Lonnie McClanahan added 12 points and junior guard Jamel Outler had 11 points.
The Mavericks got off to a 7-0 start, holding the Bobcats scoreless for 3 1/2 minutes. UTA received a boost from Dowell, back first time since being injured Jan. 4.
The senior promptly drilled a 3-pointer shortly after checking in four minutes into the game. Dowell had eight points in the first half on 3-of-5 shooting, including 2 of 4 from beyond the arc.
The Mavericks went up 20-15 on Outler's 3-pointer coming out of a timeout. Texas State responded with three 3-pointers late in the half to take a 24-22 lead into the locker room.
Both teams struggled from the floor and with holding on to the basketball in the opening half. The Mavericks and Bobcats both shot 31.8 percent. UTA turned the ball over 11 times, with the Bobcats suffering 10 turnovers.
The Mavericks retook the lead (29-28) early in the second half on McClanahan's three-point play. Outler followed with a 3-pointer from the corner and UTA extended its advantage to 40-32 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
The Bobcats pulled within 44-42 with less than four minutes left. Junior forward Anthony Walker scored off an offensive rebound to give UTA a four-point cushion.
The Mavericks return home to College Park Center next week for Sun Belt games against Troy (Thursday, 8 p.m.) and South Alabama (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.).