LAFAYETTE, La. - UT Arlington found itself on the top end of a defensive battle at the Cajundome, downing Louisiana 38-33 to sweep the season series with the Ragin' Cajuns.
Taking Saturday's matchup, UTA improved to 16-10 overall and 10-5 in the Sun Belt. The win pushed the Lady Mavs' winning streak to a league best five games, while winning eight of the last night games. Louisiana went to 13-13 and 8-6 in the league.
The fourth quarter put a stamp on an offensive struggle with UTA having its best defensive performance of the campaign. After making its opening shot of the period, Louisiana went the final nine minutes without making a field goal. UTA took advantage to push into the lead, clinching the day on a pair of free throws from Laurynn McGowen with 2.9 seconds on the clock. The 38 points were the fewest for UTA in a win in program history.
Rebekah VanDijk led UTA's offense with 11 points, the lone Lady Maverick in double figures as UTA shot just 34.9 percent from the field. Louisiana finished at just 20.9 percent from the field as Skyler Goodwin had a game-high 14 points. UTA struggled to knock it down from long range as Lauren Billie and Brooke Alexander had UTA's treys. Louisiana hit just 1-of-14 attempts.
The Lady Mavs head into the final home week of the regular season with its destiny to earn a bye in their hands. If UTA were to take the final three games, the Lady Mavs would finish as the second seed heading into the SBC Championship tournament in March. UTA begins the week at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday against Georgia Southern, the last team to top the Lady Mavs. UTA then celebrates Senior Day on Saturday at 2 p.m. vs. Georgia State. The final regular season game sees UTA travel down I-35 for the in-state rivalry with Texas State, currently the second seed.
HOW IT HAPPENED
First Quarter: Scoring was at a premium as both sides battled on defense. More than three minutes went by without a point as the teams were a combined 0-for-7 to start the game. VanDijk provided UTA's points with a lay in inside, while Louisiana had five of its seven first quarter points at the line.
It was a similar second 10 minutes with Louisiana finding success by getting to the line. The Cajuns had eight points from the line in the first half. Brooke Alexander knocked down a long range 3-pointer midway through the period to push UTA into the lead. Louisiana responded by holding the Lady Mavs without a point for the next two minutes. Lauren Billie connected on UTA's second trey of the quarter, but Louisiana took a one-point advantage into the break as a short jumper fell at the buzzer.
Third Quarter: The Lady Mavs seemed to have momentum out of the break as VanDijk was one of two UTA players to hit on shots to open the quarter. However, a drought of more than two minutes left both teams without points with UTA leading by one at the 4:21 media timeout. Just 1-of-7 shooting down the stretch left UTA without a field goal for the final three minutes of the third. The Ragin' Cajuns took advantage to score the stanza's final four points. UTA was 0-of-4 from deep in the quarter.
Fourth Quarter: Louisiana scored the opening points of the quarter to give itself the largest lead of the game for either side at four points, with UTA not hitting on its first three attempts, UTA coach Krista Gerlich took a timeout to calm down the offense. After Louisiana went up by four, UTA ended its drought with a run into the lead with Shelby Richards slicing through the lane for the 17th lead change of the day to go up one with under five to play.
With both teams going more than six minutes without a field goal, three consecutive turnovers hampered Louisiana's ability to try to pull ahead. UTA would get buckets from McGowen to regain the lead, while the junior knocked down the clinching free throws with seconds on the clock.
KEY STATS UTA shot 42.1 percent in the first half, but just 29.2 in the second…. UTA outscored Louisiana 12-6 in the final period…. Louisiana went to the line 20 times, making 15 attempts, while UTA shot just nine free throws…. Shelby Richards and Daiane Machado led UTA with five rebounds. UTA turned the ball over 19 times.
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