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By Brent Ingram, UTA Athletics Communications
ARLINGTON, Texas -- UTA's all-time leading scorer, Terra Wallace, joins her 2004-05 and 2006-07 teams as 2018 inductees in to the Mavericks Hall of Honor.
A native of Round Rock, Texas, Wallace starred for the Mavericks from 2003-07, leading her sophomore and senior teams to the NCAA Tournament and conference championships.
Spotted by the UTA coaching staff as a star at Austin Leander High School, Wallace quickly became a focal point of Coach Donna Capps' recruiting priorities.
"She was a little sponge type kid," Capps said when recalling the recruiting process of Wallace. "She wanted to learn everything about basketball. When she wasn't playing, she was in the stands. When I was introduced to Terra, we hit it off. One of my really great friends was her high school coach. She had a lot of offers from the Southland Conference. We knew she would fit into our system so well. She had a mind for basketball like a coaching mind. That is what you want in your point guard. She was a total extension of us on the court and some of her talent you just can't teach. She had the God-given talent that would allow her to be explosive, jump out of the gym, all that stuff, but she had a mentality that was different. She could see the game developing. So many kids now are students of the game but she really was back then. She loved the game."
Capps made Wallace a key piece of her 2003-04 class and Wallace immediately fought her way into the lineup to average 7.1 points per game in her debut season.
"Coming in as someone who was great in high school, when I got to college, the level of competition put things in perspective for me as a player," Wallace recalled. "Freshman year kind of humbled me. Of course I was playing with veteran girls like Rola (Ogunoye), and they were playing at a much higher level then I was playing at. It helped me having those girls to see what my potential could possibly be by playing against better competition everyday. It was a struggle honestly, coming in thinking that you are going to be a star in college. But college is not a cakewalk. It was a big learning experience for me freshman year."
"Terra Wallace, she was a young freshman, and got a lot of minutes on that 2004-05 team," Capps said. "I bet that helped her. She had to mature pretty quickly. She really turned the corner that year on her skills, started playing extremely good defense. She became a leader and in 2006-07, people would sit in the stands and wonder how we were able to get a player as talented as Terra to come play at UTA. Because she really developed during her career."
Wallace, a 5-foot-7 guard, took the next step as a sophomore, averaging 13.8 points per game, while pacing the Mavs to the 2004-05 Southland Conference Championship regular season and tournament titles. UTA took a pride in its defensive intensity and finished ranking 11th in the NCAA in scoring defense.
"Defense was always a big thing," Wallace said. "We pressed teams so bad that they would just get rattled. We always fed off that and knew that defense was going to lead to offense. It was always going to give us offense to have that mentality. Coach did a great job of implementing that system defensively. That was the biggest thing about that season. We were going to hound you. As soon as you got the ball in we were going to hound you. As soon as you got to that other side of the court it was going to be a test for you to score. If we were able to get down and get in our assignments, it was hard. And if you weren't committed to playing defense you weren't going to get in the game. We had offensive scorers, but everybody's mentality was that if you weren't playing defense you weren't going to see the floor."
Wallace began her assault on the Lady Mavs record book as a junior in 2005-06, setting the single-season mark with 553 points, ranking second in school annals with 19.1 points per game. The season ended with the Mavs falling just short of the NCAA Tournament after a conference tournament loss, but the heartbreak of the setback set the stage for a historic 2006-07.
"That team turned into something really great. We lost in 2005-06 and everybody got motivated," Wallace said. "I remember going to Maryann (Abanobi), I was devastated that we had lost and I felt like I had let the whole team down, so I just got in the gym like crazy that summer. I just made sure that I was in the gym. What was crazy, was there'd be these odd times that I would just want to get into the gym, thinking it would just be more or some random students to play, and Maryann was there. That memory highlights what the feeling was on that team. When went into my senior year, we just took over everything. The feeling of letting everyone down the year before, I just was going to be very vocal at that time. I was always in the girls' ears. We were in the gym a lot more. It was cool to see that. Maryann, is somewhat quiet, but really become a leader on that team. We were all focused on our overall goal."
While combining with Abanobi, a junior guard out of Sugarland, and key players in Ashly Bobb, Tiffeny Riles and Tojinay Thompson, Wallace was able to lighten her scoring load as a senior, while continuing to embrace the leadership role.
"Her minutes multiplied but she matured, not only as a player but as a person," Capps said. "She could see the big picture basketball wise, which made her really unique, but she really picked up the other aspects of growing up during her career. She became a great leader and teammate. She started understanding responsibilities a little bit more, like all college kids do. Unselfish, she did things for the team, because she was the scoring leader and was billed as the star, and those kind of labels can kill a team too. But she embraced the team concept and actually kept the others in line a little bit."
She finished her senior year averaging 16.6 point per game, setting program records for career points and ranking second in assists and free-throw percentage. She dished out 3.29 assists per game in her career.
"I pretty much adopted Terra," Capps remembered fondly. "She was an exceptional player and is a wonderful person."
The Hall of Honor class of 2018 will be inducted on the weekend of Jan. 19-20, with a special ceremony scheduled for Friday, January 19 at 7:30 in the E.H. Hereford University Center. Tickets are available through www.utamavs.com/hallofhonor, with table sponsorships available through Friday, Jan. 12.
The honorees will be celebrated during UTA's basketball doubleheader with ULM on Saturday, with the women tipping off at 2 p.m. (CST) and the men's game slated for a 4:30 p.m. start at College Park Center.
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