ARLINGTON, Texas South Alabama caught fire from long range to top UT Arlington 76-63 on Saturday at College Park Center.
The Jaguars, receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, knocked down 10 from behind the arc to improve to 10-5 for the season and 3-1 in Sun Belt play - outscoring the Lady Mavs 29-17 in the final 10 minutes. UTA fell to 8-7 and even at 2-2 in the league. The setback spoiled a milestone night for senior Rebekah VanDijk. VanDijk's eight rebounds moved the Nazareth, Texas native to second in UTA history with 981 rebounds in her career. VanDijk is approaching becoming the first player in program history to have 1,000 points and rebounds.
VanDijk led the offensive effort with 15 points, joined in double figures by Crystal Allen with 13 and Laurynn McGowen's 11. Chyna Ellis led South Alabama's attack with a game-high 20 points, 11 rebounds - knocking down four of the team's 3-pointers, while swatting away six shots.
UTA hits the road for its next two games, traveling to take on Little Rock on Jan. 11 at 5 p.m. and heads to Arkansas State on Jan. 13.
HOW IT HAPPENED
First Quarter: It was a three-point party in the first 20 minutes of play with each team exchanging blows. Crystal Allen knocked down a pair of UTA's three in the first quarter on back-to-back trips down the floor. However, despite taking a four-point advantage with 5:18 to play, South Alabama's Chyna Ellis knocked down two of her own and UTA held a one-point edge after one.
In similar style, Lauren Billie opened the second stanza with a corner 3-pointer to set off a chain in which the teams would go into the break with five 3-pointers apiece. Shelby Richards, doing her work inside, made three of her first five shots in getting to a team-high nine points at halftime. A late scoring run by South Alabama in scoring five of the final six points left UTA with its same one-point edge going into the locker room.
Third Quarter: South Alabama's defense stepped up in the third quarter to spark a run into the lead. The Jaguars would take a seven-point advantage with less than three minutes to go in the quarter as UTA went more than three without a point on 0-for-6 shooting. Brooke Alexander joined with Allen in ending the drought as the pair knocked down two from long range and UTA was down just one going to the fourth.
Fourth Quarter: Another hot start by the Jaguars sparked an 11-5 advantage to start the fourth, sending UTA into a timeout as it saw itself once again down by seven points with 6:30 to play. The Lady Mavs trimmed into the deficit, but the 3-pointer continued to plague the Lady Mavs as South Alabama converted on back-to-back trips down the floor and held a 10-point lead with three minutes to go. UTA would bring the lead down to just nine points, but turnovers erased the comeback attempt as South Alabama pushed its lead beyond double figures for the remainder.
STATS: South Alabama outscored UTA 29-17 in the fourth quarter after leading by one at the end of the third... UTA shot 30.0 percent in the second half after hitting at a 50.0 percent clip in the first 20 minutes... South Alabama shot 50.0 percent overall and was 10-for-24 from deep... UTA is 1-7 when trailing going into the final 10 minutes... UTA is 6-1 when forcing more turnovers than its opponent, falling for the first time.