ARLINGTON, Texas -- The first team in UTA basketball history to make it to the NCAA Tournament, the 2004-05 Lady Mavericks, are slated for induction into the 2018 Hall of Honor Class.
The 2004-05 Lady Mavs are joined in the Hall of Honor induction class of 2018 by the 2006-07 team, which also advanced to the NCAA Tournament, and UTA's all-time scoring leader Terra Wallace.
Coached by Donna Capps, the Lady Mavericks posted a 21-10 record and a school-record 13-3 mark in Southland Conference play, claiming the regular-season and tournament championships.
"The team had an attitude that you just don't see very often any more," Capps remembered. "That attitude that all of us is better than one of us. They really, really felt that way. They worked so well as a team. If one was not scoring then, they became the assist leader of the night. If one wasn't doing as well in one area, they'd find a way to impact in something like rebounding. Those teams had that blue collar, we are going to get it done attitude."
The season was one of firsts for the Lady Mavs, which totaled the best winning percentage in program annals. The 21 wins marked the second-most in school history.
"We had some kids that a lot of people wanted to watch," Capps said. "We had former football players, former coaches, that just wanted to be around the program. Our kids were playing so hard and it was something that started to connect with our alumni and our former players. We were in some ways a magnet for the underdogs and the good guy winning. It started growing. People liked watching little 5-foot-7 kids compete against six-foot girls and win."
The Lady Mavs were blessed with a roster of homegrown, scrappy talents, which included a quality mix of experience-laden veterans and plucky underclassmen that would eventually return UTA to the NCAA Tournament two years later.
"We were just bound and determined to recruit quality kids," Capps said. "We were in a hotbed of talent but with so many great programs in the area, we decided we wanted to focus on quality kids that really wanted to graduate and were coachable. If we could get those parents that were raising their kids like that, it was going to be positive no matter what. We started getting good attitude, intelligent kids. UTA is no joke academically, so we wanted to go after those kids as a start. The chemistry with those kids just started growing."
UTA's identity was spurred throughout the year by a suffocating pressure, ranking 11th in the NCAA in scoring defense. The Lady Mavs went 11-0 at celebrated Texas Hall.
"Defense was always a big thing," Wallace, then a sophomore, remembered. "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. 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 defensive we 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."
The early-season highlight for the Mavs saw UTA take a non-conference win at Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse. Narrow setbacks vs. No. 24 Villanova and Florida State set the stage for the team to shine in league action.
"The kids started to really believe," Capps said. "The more they believed, the harder they worked, the better comradery got. We had a little group but had recruited all locally and those communities were really starting to come out and support us. Those former players, that had given so much to lay the ground work in the program, they were all so excited to jump on the bandwagon and come back and support the girls. We developed a real program by recruiting those high-character kids. There were so many that went on to be highly successful people, engineers, doctors, attorneys, some big time impact. It was a true Cinderella story."
In conference play, the Mavs rolled through a near perfect January and stretched their record to 8-0 to open conference play, then the longest league winning streak in school history. UTA held opponents to only 53.8 points per game, a school record, and forced 5 of their last 23 opponents into 50 points or less.
"We held some pretty good teams to under 50 points," Capps said. "We didn't have the backcourt 10 second rule, if we'd have had that, our scoring defense would've been every better. We'd hold people in the backcourt for 10 seconds and it wouldn't matter. But that typifies the type of team we had. We had a group of kids that were winners. They wanted to win."
The Mavs used a Southland Conference Championship win over ULM to advance to earn UTA's first invite to the big dance, with Wallace earning tournament MVP honors. UTA was selected as the No. 13 seed and shipped to Dallas, where 6,488 witnessed - including a strong contingent of Mavs fans - UTA battle valiantly against a storied Texas Tech program in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Senior forward/guard Rola Ogunoye, a four-time All-Southland Conference selection, led the Lady Mavs individually in 2004-05. Ogunoye, a native of Cedar Hill, is the only player in UTA history to lead the program in scoring in each of her four seasons. She averaged 14.8 points a game, while grabbing 7.1 rebounds and shooting 49 percent from the field as a senior.
"Rola was the scoring queen," Capps said. "She was undersized at the four (position) but was so explosive to the basket. She was a great defensive player and you talk about intelligent. That kid was so, so good. She was wonderful."
Wallace began to come into her own as a sophomore during 2004-05, the second act in a record-setting career for the Round Rock native. The eventual UTA leading scorer ranked second on the team with 13.8 points per game.
Wallace was joined in the backcourt by senior distributor Krystal Buchanan, whose 40-foot buzzer beater lifted UTA to a 56-53 win over McNeese State and earned her the No. 3 spot in ESPN SportsCenter's Top-10 Plays. Buchanan, a product of DeSoto, was a vital piece of the the club, totaling the first triple-double in school history in a win over Sam Houston State, and setting the single-game assist record with 14 vs. Texas State.
"We had some of the best guards," Capps remembered. "We recruited three point guards, then we recruited more, and it got to where we barely recruited anything but point guards for our guard spots.
Sophomores Ashley Bobb and Tojinay Thompson had solid seasons, with Bobb owning 7.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while starting 26 of 31 games. Sophomore guard Tabitha Wesley, another product of DeSoto, averaged 9.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, with senior forward Tamesha Graves, a native of Carrollton, starting 10 games.
Freshmen Maryann Abanobi and Tiffeny Riles, eventual stars for the 2006-07 Lady Mavericks, had key impacts in their collegiate debuts, with Melanie Lane, Aleshia White and Tamara Vaughn each earning starts.
"We were playing Tabitha (Wesley), Krystal (Buchannan) and Rola (Ogunoye)," Capps said. "Tojinay Thompson was used to winning in high school. Tamesha Graves, really came on late in the year. We were truly undersized inside with Ashley (Bobb) and Rola. Tiffeny Riles really developed into a great player, defensive player and rebounder. The whole roster, they all had a role."
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