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ARLINGTON, Texas -- After posting a perfect 16-0 conference record en route to the Southland Conference regular and tournament titles, the 2006-07 Lady Mavs are to be inducted in the 2018 UTA Hall of Honor.
The 2006-07 Lady Mavs are joined by the 2004-05 edition of UTA women's basketball in the 2018 Hall of Honor Class. In addition, UTA all-time leading scorer Terra Wallace - a key star for both teams - is part of the 2018 Hall of Honor induction class.
If the 2004-05 Lady Mavs - the first UTA basketball team to advance to the NCAA Tournament - broke ground for the program, the 2006-07 Mavs paved a new road.
UTA's 2005-06 season finished just shy of a repeat season as the league champions and was built on a stifling pressure that ranked among the nation's scoring defense leaders. While UTA's defense led the way, Wallace carried an oversized amount of the offensive pressure after the graduation of dynamite scorer Rola Ogunoye. Wallace led the Southland Conference with 19.1 points per game but the Mavs lost their regular-season final - and a chance at home-court advantage throughout the tournament - at McNeese, 48-47 to finish just a game shy of the league title. UTA exacted revenge on McNeese with a first-round win but suffered a double-overtime loss to UT San Antonio in the Southland semifinals, ending dreams at a repeat.
The offseason was a painful one for UTA's leaders. After tasting a historic season the year prior, the sting of falling just short of a repeat campaign led to unmatched determination to return to the NCAA's Big Dance.
"That team turned into something really great," Wallace said. "What was crazy was after we lost the year before, the whole team had a crazy motivation. 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. 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 (Abanobi) was there. That memory highlights what the feeling was on that team. That we went into my senior year, we just took over everything and we were all focused on our overall goals."
In 2006-07, UTA posted a 24-9 overall record, winning 19 straight games against Southland Conference foes to advance to the second NCAA Tournament in program annals.
Wallace, a native of Round Rock, was able to distribute to a strong supporting cast as a senior. After packing all of the scoring punch for the Lady Mavs as a junior, Wallace was able to share the offensive workload in 2006-07.
Maryann Abanobi, a senior guard out of Sugar Land, Texas, and senior center Tiffeny Riles were prime offensive weapons. Abanobi averaged 10.8 points per game, with Riles sporting 9.5 points and six rebounds per game. Sophomore 6-foot-1 forward Candice Champion was a force off the bench, leading the team with a 45 percent clip from behind the arc.
"Terra and Maryann were pretty much the fixture of the offense," UTA's head coach in 2006-07, Donna Capps, said. "But Candice Campion and Tiffeny Riles, they really progressed. They got more aggressive, more responsibilities and more active. Candice really developed a strong inside presence. We got quality minutes out of Meghan (Nelson) and Kiarra (Sofner). Both of those girls, they were young, but they learned under Terra like Terra learned under Tabitha (Wesley) and Krystal (Buchannan)."
Garland, Texas, native Ashley Bobb excelled as an undersized post player, averaging 8.3 points per game while leading the club with nine rebounds per game.
"Ashley Bobb in the 2006-07 group, really came on. She was a quick, explosive post. When we lost Rola, we lost a lot of quick and smart. Ashley worked really hard over the summer to become extremely quick and explosive and be able to score those inside points for us."
Tojjinay Thompson, a senior forward from Plainview, started 27 of 33 games, averaging 4.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
The leadership of UTA's senior class of Bobb, Thompson and Wallace formed a strong trio to continue to build a foundation for the flourishing program.
"It was a family deal," Capps said. "Everybody treated them like little sisters. There was nurturing and helping as teammates. Towards the end there in 2006-07, the experienced players were coaches for us. They were stopping bad habits before we could. That helps so much because those high school kids come in and after hearing those coaches say things over and over, to hear their teammates say the same thing, it really helps them buy into the system. They really did that for us."
UTA's season opened with a pair of wins at Texas Hall, where UTA would accumulate a 10-1 record, before hitting the road in losses at Michigan State and vs. North Dakota State in Bozeman, Mont. A rugged four-game losing streak with losses vs. Pepperdine in overtime, and at SMU, Texas Tech and TCU, helped prepare the Mavs for a charge into conference play.
The Lady Mavs were relentless in league action, winning 19 straight games, including a 21-point win over Stephen F. Austin in the Southland Conference Tournament Championship game in Houston.
UTA was selected to the NCAA Tournament bracket in Los Angeles and faced a stout test in Texas A&M in the first round. The Aggies held off the Lady Mavs in an eight-point win but it did not diminish the historic season posted in 2006-07.
"There are so many special moments," Wallace remembered. "Now that I look back at it as a journey, one of the things that stand out now is that the people that I was surrounded with, they were just phenomenal. I had people in my life that were just great people. I never had any sisters, so I had always been around brothers, but to be around a whole bunch of women, that was different for me. Those times taught me so much and shaped the person that I became today. The biggest thing for me was the foundation there. You learn about the people who really care about you as a person and basketball player. When you are playing, you don't look at it like that, but now looking back, I am so glad that we challenged each other. It shaped the people we are today."
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