Feb. 25, 2017
By Cassie Logan | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- UTA women's basketball celebrated Senior Day with a 53-41 rout of South Alabama Saturday at College Park Center.
With the win, UTA (19-7, 12-4) clinched a winning record in February (4-3), marking the first time the program has ever been able to register a winning clip in each of the season's first four months. The Lady Mavericks are now just two wins away from their best winning percentage in history.
UTA grasped sole possession of second place in the Sun Belt standings prior to one last road trip to ULM and Louisiana. South Alabama dropped to 9-17 and 4-11 in conference competition.
Seniors Ally Te'o and Breck Clark played the last games of their career in Arlington. Te'o turned in two points, a rebound, one block and a steal. Both were honored on the court prior to tipoff with framed jerseys.
Miranda LeJune came away with a career-best 11 points, including a 3-of-5 clip from 3-point range. Rebekah VanDijk notched a double-double on 14 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes. The junior was one of four Lady Mavs with a perfect day at the free throw line (6-6). Cierra Johnson penned eight points and six steals. Her fourth on the day allowed her to pass Rudy Sims and clinch 24th on the Sun Belt's career steals list.
South Alabama paved the way for UTA to open up a large lead in the first quarter. Shooting just eight percent, the Lady Mavs constructed an 12-point lead capped by an Ericka Mattingly trey at the shot clock buzzer.
The Jaguars came alive late in the second frame on an 8-2 run, five points made from the free throw line, to bridge the gap 27-22. A jumper from Colby Davis with just over 30 seconds left sent the Jags into the break trailing by six.
UTA didn't allow a close game for long as the break only fueled more offensive action. The Lady Maverick defense silenced South Alabama on just 1-of-10 FG shooting in the third frame, while out-scoring their opponent 17-6. The Lady Mavs slowed pace in the final frame and went without a basket in the remaining five minutes, while the Jaguars chipped away with the last 10 points of the game to lessen the blow.
The Lady Mavericks held the Jaguars to just eight percent shooting from the floor in the first quarter to erect a 20-7 lead. South Alabama was able to close the deficit to 21-25 in the second frame, outscoring UTA 18-11.
LeJune had a pair of back-to-back long-range shots toward the end of the third quarter to keep momentum moving for the Lady Mavs and increase the lead by 17 points. South Alabama was held to just six points in that period. Nearly three minutes passed to start the fourth frame before a shot was made, another clutch 3 from LeJune, to pad UTA's 10-point advantage. The Lady Mavs sustained enough of a safety net to outlast the Jaguars despite being out-scored 10-5 in the quarter.
The Lady Maverick defense forced 21 turnovers and was able to convert that aggressive defense into 19 points. Despite South Alabama winning the battle of the boards 38-34, the Jags' shooting hindered their performance, just 12-for-51 from the floor. The Lady Mavericks hit 36 percent (16-45), but their best shots came from the free throw line. UTA made 16 of 17 attempts, including perfect performances from VanDijk, Johnson, Christina Devers and Crystal Allen.
The Lady Mavericks close out the regular season portion of the 2016-17 campaign with a road trip to Louisiana. UTA looks to complete season sweeps at ULM at 5:15 p.m. Thursday and Louisiana 5 p.m. Saturday.
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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