ATLANTA - It was a thriller on Thursday night at GSU Sports Arena as UT Arlington survived Georgia State's comeback bid to win 81-76 for its third straight victory.
Trailing by one with nine seconds left in regulation, a huge steal from Laurynn McGowen would lead to two converted free throws, but GSU would be fouled on the other end with 1.7 on the clock to shoot two. After the first went in, the second bounced off and UTA's desperation shot bounced off the rim.
The Lady Mavs would take advantage and open the OT period on an 11-3 run. With the win UTA improved to 11-9 overall and 5-4 in league play, moving above .500 in the Sun Belt for the first time this season. Georgia State couldn't string together consecutive wins, falling to 5-14 and 1-7. UTA led by as many as 16 with 6:36 in the third.
UTA's Rebekah VanDijk would have a monster first half, scoring the opening bucket in just five seconds on the way to 23 first-half points as well as her 44th-career double-double with 10 rebounds. However, the Panthers clamped down on the senior, giving up just four points to VanDijk in the final 20 minutes. With her opening points, VanDijk became just the fifth player in UTA history to record 1,500 points as she has 1,525 in four years.
The performance from McGowen proved clutch down the stretch as she provided a career-high 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting, connecting on six from the charity stripe including the cruicial shots in the final seconds. Crystal Allen was hot behind the 3-point line, connecting on five of her nine attempts for 15 points.
The Lady Mavs continue the trek through Georgia on Saturday when they take on Georgia Southern at 1 p.m. CT.
HOW IT HAPPENED
First Quarter: The opening 10 minutes proved crucial as UTA put up its most points in an opening quarter this season. The Panthers didn't have an answer for VanDijk inside as the senior need just five seconds to get on the board. The Lady Mavs would continue to pound it inside to the Nazareth, Texas native as she would have 10 points in the first 3:46 of the game.
Georgia State would settle in, but couldn't slow down the UTA offense as the Lady Mavs shot 57.9 percent from the field, helped along by VanDijk making her first six attempts. Georgia State would trial by 12, knocking down a 3-pointer with seconds on the clock.
It was Georgia State that came out hot to start the second quarter. The Panthers went on a 10-2 run to open the frame and trimmed the deficit down to just three points midway through the quarter. However, it was VanDijk once again who lifted up the offense, securing her double-double and sparked a 7-0 run.
Crystal Allen joined in on the fun to knock down a pair of treys and UTA took a 15-point lead into the locker room.
Third Quarter: While UTA seemed to be able to match Georgia State blow-for-blow in the third stanza, Georgia State found an answer for VanDijk. The Panthers held her to just two points in period and took advantage of the lack of the center's offense to spark a comeback once again. A 10-2 run in the final three minutes trimmed the deficit to just six points going to the fourth.
Fourth Quarter: The momentum continued for the Panthers to open the final frame as a 3-pointer with seven minutes to play gave Georgia State its first lead of the game. The Lady Mavs were able to give a quick response to tie the game at 60, giving the UTA coach a chance to slow things down with a timeout.
The teams would trade shots once again as GSU built up a four-point edge in the final minute. A clutch three-point shot from Allen pulled UTA within one, and McGowen's steal completed UTA's comeback.
KEY STATS UTA led for 37.37, including the first three periods of play. UTA improved to 9-0 when leading going to the final quarter... Shelby Richards finished with 10 points... UTA shot 45.5 percent from the field after being nearly at 60 percent in the first 20 minutes. UTA made just eight field goals in the second half... UTA outscored GSU off the bench 21-9, led by Allen's 15... Georgia State hit 10 3-pointers.