NEW ORLEANS - The Lady Mavericks had their dream of reaching the NCAA Tournament snapped by offensive power Troy, 88-59, on Saturday in the Sun Belt semifinals at Lakefront Arena.
Second-seed UTA was unable to match the early energy of the defending SBC Tournament champion as it went to 22-8 overall for the season. The Lady Mavs will await a potential bid into a postseason tournament with information of a bid coming on Monday night.
No. 3 Troy jumped out to a 22-13 advantage after the first 10 minutes and never let UTA get in rhythm. The Lady Mavs shot just 29.0 percent from the field and were out-rebounded 63-30. The margin helped the Trojans to 26 second chance points to UTA's four. The Trojans improved to 21-10 for the season.
Cierra Johnson led UTA's offense for a second consecutive night, posting 14 to follow up a 20-point effort in the quarterfinals. Johnson finished with seven steals in the game, moving up to 17th in Sun Belt history with 245 in her career. The mark also moved her into third in career steals at UTA. Rebekah VanDijk moved into eighth in UTA history in scoring with 11 points for the evening, the junior has 1,227 in her career.
Breaking open a quick double-digit lead, Troy took advantage of the Lady Maverick woes in shooting to go up 13-3 just minutes in. UTA, scoring the opening bucket of the game, would miss on its next seven attempts.
Coming off a game in which it posted the second all-time mark for rebounds in a game with 86 on Thursday night, Troy picked up right where it left off as it had an advantage of 13-3 during a 12-0 run in the first quarter.
The Lady Mavs picked up some momentum to close the quarter, but just as UTA knocked down a 3-pointer from Christina Devers early in the second, Troy responded with one of its own to start a 7-0 run and double up the lead once again to 14 points.
Neither team closed the first half strong, the Lady Mavs once again had a scoring drought of more than six minutes in the period and went into the break down by 12.
UTA trimmed it down to just 10 points by scoring the first two points, both coming on free throws, of the second half. The Lady Mavs had several opportunities to cut it closer, but went on a drought of missing on its next 10 field-goal attempts. The Trojans picked up the opportunity to break open a lead of more than 20 heading to the fourth.
Scoring droughts of more than five minutes plagued the Lady Mavs in the opening 20 minutes. UTA shot just 7-of-27 from the field and hit two of its 10 attempts from long range. Troy took advantage and went on runs of 14 and seven to take a 12-point lead into halftime.
With UTA cutting the lead down to just 10 points early in the third quarter, momentum appeared to be on the Lady Mavs' side. However, the Trojans proved that wrong. Troy raced out to another run, this time a 7-0 spurt, and sent its lead soaring above 20 points as UTA couldn't get a shot to fall.
UTA's bid at its third NCAA Tournament appearance came to an end. It will await a postseason selection to a possible WNIT appearance and or another tournament. UTA has participated in the WNIT on two previous occasions (1998 and 2008).
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