CONWAY, S.C. – UTA put together one of its best defensive performances under coach Krista Gerlich, downing Coastal Carolina 70-41 on Thursday night at HTC Center.
UTA, winners of the last three, improved its record to 14-4 and 7-1 in Sun Belt play in sweeping the season series with the Chanticleers (8-11, 3-5 SBC). The 41 points scored by CCU were the second fewest scored by a UTA opponent this season and a season low by the Chants.
Crystal Allen led 11 different UTA scorers as the junior finished with a game-high 12 points on 5-12 shooting. Christina Devers, Cierra Johnson and Rebekah VanDijk joined her in double figures. Devers finished with 11 while Johnson and VanDijk had 10 apiece. The 10 points from VanDijk continued her streak of being in double figures in all 18 games this year.
Ericka Mattingly helped lead the UTA defense as the freshman finished with six steals. UTA forced CCU into 28 turnovers, the second most by an opponent this season.
The defense shined in the opening half to help spark the Lady Mavs into a big lead early on. Clamping down, UTA forced the Chanticleers into 11 first-quarter turnovers on the way to 16 in the half. The defense turned into a productive offense with a 17-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
The lead went to 20 points early in the second quarter as UTA sparked a 7-0 run between periods, while holding the Chants scoreless for more than four minutes.
Devers joined VanDijk with pacing the offense in the half, each had a team-high eight points at the break. Mattingly had five steals to go with seven points, including knocking down a 3-pointer in the second quarter that snapped a 0-of-17 skid against CCU from beyond the arc dating back to the Dec. 31 meeting. Despite only shooting 35.5 percent, UTA led 35-20 heading into the third.
The UTA defense continued to confuse the Coastal Carolina offensive abilities, holding the Chants without a point in the second half until a 3-pointer fell with under four minutes left in the period. UTA's offense took advantage and pushed the lead beyond 20 points once again.
Miranda LeJune put together a 4-0 run of her own, knocking down a tear-drop jumper from 10-feet out to give the Lady Mavs their largest lead of the game at 31 points.
After Coastal Carolina scored the opening point, it was all UTA in the first half as the defense forced 16 first half turnovers. The Lady Mavericks built their lead up beyond double-digits midway through the opening period, and never saw it fall closer than 15 points for the remainder.
Providing an early answer to if they'd allow Coastal Carolina back in the game, the Lady Mavs began the second half with a quick four points, and then a Crystal Allen 3-pointer forced CCU into a timeout.
UTA rebounded from shooting below 40 percent in the first half to finish at 47.1. The Lady Mavs have been above 40 percent in each of its last three games… Rebekah VanDijk moved into 15th in UTA's scoring history, doing so early in the game. VanDijk has 1,056 points in her career.
UTA continues its two-game road trip as it heads to the mountains to face Appalachian State on Saturday at 12 p.m. CT. The contest is featured on ESPN3.
The 2017 Sun Belt Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Championships are scheduled for a week of March Madness in the Big Easy. New Orleans will once again be home to the two championships that will take place at Lakefront Arena from March 7-12 and ticket books can now be purchased from your school's ticket office. For more information, visit the Sun Belt Conference's championship central websites - Men's Championship - Women's Championship - and be sure to follow the #FunBelt on social media - @SunBelt.
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