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ARLINGTON, Texas - The race for the top four seeds is heating up in the final stretch of Sun Belt play with UT Arlington hosting Georgia Southern on Thursday morning in UTA's Annual Maverick Spirit Kid's Day at 11:30 a.m., presented by Ben Hogan Texas Health.
The Lady Mavericks (16-10, 10-5) enter with the league's best winning streak at five games, having won eight of the last nine. The last loss came to Thursday's foe as Georgia Southern nipped UTA 73-68 in January. The Eagles show more than 50 percent from the field in the win, outscoring UTA 22-14 in the fourth quart to steal the win.
This week has even greater importance as UTA battles it out to finish in the top four with three games left in the Lady Maverick slate. The top four team earn a first-round by in March's Sun Belt Championship Tournament in New Orleans. If UTA were to win out (games also against Georgia State and Texas State), the Lady Mavs would finish as the second seed. However, dropping any of the final three would leave it up to a possible tiebreaker with several scenarios leaving UTA in fifth.
A special week also marks the home finale of storied careers of Rebekah VanDijk, Miranda LeJune and Shelby Richards at College Park Center. UTA will honor the trio on Saturday prior to its 2 p.m. tipoff with Georgia State on Senior Day.
HOW TO WATCH/FOLLOW
Saturday's matchup is featured on ESPN3 App or on WatchESPN.com with Ron Thulin and Robert Gill on the call. Fans can also follow along to live stats via UTAMavs.com or on the team Twitter by following the account @LadyMavHoops.
UTA won the last five meetings, but Georgia Southern got the best of UTA in the last matchup. The Eagles shot a season-high 51.9 percent in the contest, knocking down 8 3-pointers. GS outscored UTA 22-14 in the 4th quarter and 19-14 in the third after UTA led 25-13 after the first 10 minutes.
UTA featured 3 in double figures, led by Rebekah VanDijk with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Crystal Allen with 18 points on 4-of-7 from deep anad 13 by Laurynn McGowen. VanDijk tied UTA’s record with a perfect shooting effort, going 8-for-8 in the game, the best for a player with more than 5 shots made in a game. VanDijk averages 13.0 points and 10.0 rebounds against GS in 6 meetings. Allen averages 14.5 points in 2 games.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
UTA is in a prime position to earn a bye in March’s SBC Championship Tournament (Top 4). If UTA were to win out in its last 3 games it would be the 2nd seed. If UTA were to win the next 2, and Louisiana takes at least 1, the Lady Mavs will have all but clinched the bye. If Arkansas State and South Alabama win out, and UTA were to fall in 1 of the next 3, UTA would fall in a tiebreaker and be No. 5 (if other teams hold seed).
Rebekah VanDijk became the program’s all-time leading rebounder at ULM last week, surpassing Lori Cottington’s all-time record that stood since 1979. UTA celebrates 3 seniors this week in VanDijk, Miranda LeJune and Shelby Richards (See notes on Page 2 for Johnson and Allen). Senior Day will be celebrated before Saturday’s game.
HEAD COACH Krista Gerlich
Krista Gerlich enters with with a 242-125 career record, while posting a 74-83 record in her fifth season at UTA. A 1993 graduate of Texas Tech, Gerlich has led a resurgance of the Lady Mavs, bringing the team from just a four-win season in her first year, to reaching the WNIT in 2017. As a player, Gerlich won the 1993 NCAA National Championship with Texas Tech. Prior to UTA, she was a standout coach at West Texas A&M, claiming three conference titles.
LAST TIME OUT
In what may be described as the best defensive battle (maybe?) in the league this season, the lowest scoring output in a win pushed UTA’s winning streak to 5 games.
The 38 points scored are the lowest in UTA single-game history, breaking the previous record of 40 achieved in 2014. The combined score of 72 tied the lowest combined in a SBC game for UTA since joining the league. Rebekah VanDijk was the lone Lady Maverick in double figures with 11 points.
Louisiana did not score a field goal for the final 9:30 of the game, picking up 4 at the line. Louisiana shot just 20.9 percent from the field, while UTA was at 34.9 percent. UTA took the lead with a 6-0 run midway through the 4th, and 2 free throws from Laurynn McGowen with 2.9 on the clock clinched the win.
PURCHASE UTA HOME GAME TICKETS
Single-game tickets to attend UTA men and women's basketball events are on sale through the UTA Box Office in person or by calling (817) 272-8585 and online through UTATickets.com. Season tickets are available for as low as $99 for all 30 men and women's games, which comes out to $3.30 per game. Single game tickets are priced at $8, $12 and $25 per game, depending on seat location. UTA students and faculty staff tickets are available for just $5 for a single game or at a reduced rate for season tickets. Discount Maverick Club (season) and general public (single game) parking is also available. Visit UTATickets.com for detailed information.
FOLLOW THE MAVS SOCIALLY
For up-to-date news, photos, videos and updates you can follow UTA sports program online at UTAMavs.com or via any of several social media accounts on twitter @UTAMavs, Instagram @UTAMavs, Snapchat @UTAMavs and Facebook at UTArlingtonAthletics. Follow the UTA basketball programs on Twitter at @UTA_MBB and @LadyMavHoops.
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