LITTLE ROCK, Ark. The Sun Belt's defending league champions continued a perfect run in conference play by holding off a chargin UT Arlington 59-57 on Thursday night at Jack Stephens Center.
UTA clawed back from a double-digit deficit and had a chance to tie with seconds on the clock, however the final attempt bounced off the glass and Little Rock held on for the win.
The setback sent the Lady Mavericks' record to 8-8 overall and 2-3 in league play, while Little Rock jumped to 8-8 and 5-0 in the Sun Belt. Little Rock, having UTA's number since the Lady Mavs joined the league in 2013, has won the last eight meetings and are 8-2 against UTA in the series history.
Rebekah VanDijk grabbed her 41st-career double-double as she finished with a game-high 17 points, bringing down 10 boards to inch closer to her 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound milestone – never achieved for a UTA player before – as she has 991 rebounds in her career. Shelby Richards was perfect from deep with three 3-pointers on the way to 15 points, hitting five of her seven field goals.
UTA continues its trek through Arkansas when he travels to Jonesboro, Ark. for a matchup with Arkansas State on Saturday at 3 p.m.
HOW IT HAPPENED
First Quarter: The anticipated defensive showdown lived up to its name in the opening 10 minutes, with each defense holding its opponent through stretches without a field goal. VanDijk led the opening spurt of offense by scoring five of the teams first 10 points. However, a stretch in which both teams went more than three minutes without a point from the field saw Little Rock score four free throws to tie the game. UTA would break the lead in the final seconds to lead 17-15 after the first 10.
UTA found its stride early in the second as Shelby Richards caught fire. The senior converted on back-to-back 3-pointers for a team-high nine points in the first half. However, the Lady Mavs went cold and were plagued with turnovers as Little Rock smashed its way into the lead on a 9-1 run in the final minutes, including a put-back at the buzzer.
Third Quarter: Little Rock came out of the locker room to run off a quick five points for its biggest lead of the game early in the quarter, Richards would give the Lady Mavs a short response, but UTA saw itself down by five at the media timeout. The run would continue for Little Rock with another spurt, extending its lead to 10 to force a UTA timeout.
Fourth Quarter: An all-out effort from UTA saw Little Rocks lead fade away midway through the final quarter. The 8-0 run was sparked with big rebounds by VanDijk, a great dish from Richards to Machado, and Richards connected on a corner shot from behind the arc to force a Little Rock timeout with 5:28 to play.
The Lady Mavs would jump into the lead as Little Rock went five minutes without a point. The Trojans responded back though with a quick 4-0 run and would lead for the remainder.
KEY STATS UTA went to 1-8 when trailing after 30 minutes (are 7-0 when leading going to the fourth)… UTA finished with 39.5 percent shooting to Little Rock's 44.2… UTA outscored Little Rock 14-9 in the fourth, but couldn't overcome the 20-14 edge Little Rock had in the third… Little Rock outscored UTA 29-9 in bench points, led by 14 from Ronjanae DeGray.
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