Final Stats | Post-game Press Conference | Photo Gallery
By Michael Eldridge | @DFWSportsMike
NEW ORLEANS – No. 3 Louisiana shocked No. 6 UT Arlington with a 13-2 run in the final minutes to defeat the Lady Mavericks 59-53 in the Sun Belt Championship first round at Lakefront Arena.
The Lady Mavericks held a five-point advantage with 2:26 remaining, but Louisiana turned UTA over four times and held the Lady Mavs to just 1-of-6 shooting down the stretch. UTA ended its campaign with a 15-16 record after falling in the tournament's first round for the second consecutive year.
Three Lady Mavs scored in double figures as UTA played without its leading scorer in Rebekah VanDijk. Cierra Johnson led the way with 13, while seniors Toma Zaleckaite and Amara Wainwright added 12 each.
After exchanging seven-point runs to open the game, the defenses settled in to provide little leeway for either team's offense to find a rhythm. The Lady Mavs shot just 31.8 percent from the floor in the first half, but found themselves down just one at the break (23-22) as LaShanda Green had a layup at the buzzer.
The Lady Mavs opened the second half by turning the Ragin' Cajuns over on two of their first three possessions. UTA seized the opportunity to take its first lead of the game on an Allyson Te'o field goal with 7:52 to go in the third.
After the teams went back-and-forth, it was UTA that was able to extend its lead. Wainwright scored seven points during the run as the Lady Mavs shot 58.3 in the third to hold a five-point advantage going to the final 10 minutes.
Leading 51-46 after a Wainwright 3-pointer, UTA would score just two points for the remainder. Louisiana turned the deficit into a lead with seven points during a 58-second run. UL knocked six free throws in the final 1:07
UTA shot 38.8 percent from the floor compared to UL's 48.0. … The Rajun' Cajuns outscored UTA 30-24 in the paint. … Green tied a season high with six rebounds.
Louisiana is 13-5 all-time against UTA and has won the last three. It was the teams' first meeting in the postseason. … UTA fell to 17-29 all-time in conference tournaments and 11-13 in the first round. … Sophomore center Rebekah VanDijk left New Orleans due to an urgent family matter. VanDijk was accompanied by UT Arlington associate head coach Kristin Cole. Allyson Te'o made her first start of the season in VanDijk's absence.