ARLINGTON, Texas- A 22-point game by Cierra Johnson combined with two others in double figures helped UTA avenge an earlier loss to Troy as the Lady Mavericks won 78-72 in Sun Belt play on Thursday at College Park Center.
Johnson was just a rebound short of her second double-double of the season as the junior guard was 9-of-11 from the field, picked up nine rebounds, dished four assists and picked up three steals. The win pushed UTA into a tie for second in the conference with just three games remaining, improving to 18-7 overall and 11-4 in SBC play. The 11 wins tie for the most in league play since UTA joined in 2013-14.
UTA, falling to Troy on Jan. 14 in its first league loss 85-68, led for more than 33 minutes of the contest and as much as 11 points in a game it controlled throughout. The Lady Mavericks turned the Trojans (18-8, 11-4 SBC) over 22 times to meet the average for the season. UTA entered the night the fifth-best team in the nation in turnovers forced per game at more than 22.
Joining Johnson in double-digit scoring was Crystal Allen with 16 points. Allen hit four treys in the contest. Christina Devers added 11. Freshman point guard Ericka Mattingly dished out nine assists, tying her personal best as well as 11th in single-game UTA history.
A big story throughout the game was UTA's ability to handled the boards. Troy entered the second-best team in the nation in rebounds per game and the Lady Mavs were able to hold a 43-41 advantage, turning in a 17-13 advantage in second-chance points.
After UTA was able to keep up with the high-paced offense of Troy in the opening frame, the Lady Mavericks caught fire offensively. UTA knocked down six 3-pointers in the first half. UTA opened a lead in the second quarter and outscored Troy 21-12 in the period.
UTA was able to answer the Trojan attack as Troy nipped the lead down to just four points early in the fourth quarter. As things started to open up between the teams, Allen stepped up to knock down a key 3-pointer down from the corner that pushed the lead back out to seven points. UTA would be able to maintain the Troy press and knocked down free throws down the stretch to keep it on top.
The Lady Mavericks shot 50.0 in the second half compared to Troy's 38.9. UTA was 14-28 to Troy's 14-36. UTA used a different starting lineup for the first time in six games as Allen came off the bench and Aysia Evans got the start. UTA ended a three-game losing streak to Troy with the win, however, Troy leads 6-3 in the all-time series.
The Lady Mavericks take the court for the final time at College Park Center this season on Senior Day against South Alabama this Saturday. UTA is honoring the careers of four-year player Allyson Te'o, and transfer guard Breck Clark before the game.
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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