Nov. 13, 2009
By Josh Bowe for utamavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas - If size matters in basketball, don't tell that to the Mavericks.
UT Arlington out-powered, out muscled and well, manhandled Rice 81-64 at Texas Hall Saturday night.
The Mavericks out rebounded the taller Owls 51-39 and collected 18 offensive rebounds in the 17-point route. The second chance points allowed the Mavericks to overcome a cold shooting night from the field. UTA shot 42 percent.
"We're small but they got some pretty good ups," coach Samantha Morrow said. "They react to the ball coming off the rim well. I certainly hope this continues."
It didn't look like the Mavericks were going to be physical early on. Rice opened the game with an 11-2 lead, scoring in the paint at will against the smaller Mavs. Morrow switched her defense to a zone, and UTA started to gain momentum.
A 15-3 run gave the Mavs a 32-25 lead, and never looked back after that.
"We've been working on our 2-3 zone lot more and we're going to have to run it more because we're not very big," Morrow said. "I thought at times it looked very good."
A chink in zone defense's armor is it lets opponents get easier rebounds and opens up perimeter shooting. It wasn't a problem for UTA. Rice's 12 offensive rebounds didn't lead to much second chance points and it only shot 5-20 from three point range.
The long missed jumped shots and the Mavs rebounding allowed them to get on the break and score in transition early and often.
"I know that my jump shot's not falling, that I can get into it from getting to the free throw line and get to the basket," senior guard Meghan Nelson said.
Nelson finished with 16 points with all her shots coming around the basket and in the paint. With a smaller lineup, the Mavs ran past the Owls throughout the entire game.
And without a true low post scorer, all the scores in the paint came from drives.
"It doesn't just have to be hammered to our post players," Morrow said. "A lot came from mid-range jump shots right in the paint."
The second half saw the Mavericks continue to flex their muscles. The Owls only threatened once early on in the second half when they whittled the Mavs lead from 49-37 to 51-46. Junior forward Shalyn Martin immediately responded with of course, and offensive rebound and a put back, plus the foul.
The three-point play pushed UTA's lead back to eight and eventually lead by as many as 19 in the second half.
"Getting the big rebounds and getting offensive boards help get us back into the game and take the lead," junior guard Tamara Simmons said.
Martin finished with a double-double, 13 points to go along with 13 rebounds. As much as the rebounds helped, getting the missed shots and forced turnovers in the first place was what excited Morrow and her players the most.
"I think they take a lot pride in the fact that they tip the ball and get those numbers on our break," Morrow said.
The only negative taken from the game? The lack of energy early on troubled Morrow a bit. She believes this is a team that can compete with anyone when they put their mind to it. So don't be too surprised if this small ball lineup continues to own the paint.
"This team wants to win. They're very competitive and very passionate about watning to win," Morrow said. "When they make their mind up that they're going to do something, they do it well."