After an eventful nonconference slate, the men’s and women’s basketball teams opened up Sun Belt Conference play Thursday against Georgia State University.

The men’s team (4-10, 0-1) returned home to host the Panthers at College Park Center while the women’s team (8-4, 0-1) battled it out at the GSU Sports Arena in Atlanta.

For the Lady Mavericks, Thursday’s matchup had high stakes. The team entered the game on a five-game road winning streak, stemming from a historic nonconference showing that saw the team secure a program-high eight wins.

Despite outscoring Georgia State in the entire second half, it was the second quarter that set the two teams apart, ultimately leading the Panthers to victory.

Following a close first quarter, a pair of 3-pointers aided the Panthers in the final minutes of the half to turn a one-possession game into what would be a 29-20 lead at the break.

UTA topped Georgia State 28-21 over the next two quarters. The Lady Mavericks managed to pull themselves out of a nine-point deficit to knot the game at 48, but the Panthers connected on a jumper with two seconds on the clock to seal the 50-48 win.

The Lady Mavericks will take on Georgia Southern University at 1 p.m. Saturday in Statesboro, Georgia.

Back home after a lengthy road trip, the men’s team limited the defending conference champions to no more than a 10-point lead throughout the entire game.

Georgia State came in hot, nailing three straight from beyond the arc to get the game started. From there, the Mavericks tied the game twice and snagged the lead once in the first half.

Holding a slim 31-28 advantage at the break, the Panthers entered the second half with the same momentum as they did in the first, pushing the game apart with a 7-0 run.

As the Mavericks pulled closer, it all came down to a battle on the free throw line. UTA brought itself within as little as two points, but Georgia State responded with a 5-0 run to secure the 63-58 victory.

Next up, the men’s basketball team will host Georgia Southern University at 2 p.m. Saturday at College Park Center.

“We’re going to get there; we’re making progress and eventually it’s all going to come together for us. I believe that we can be a problem for other teams in this league,” head coach Chris Ogden said. “We just need to stay with it and get back in the gym and keep working. We need to switch our focus now to Georgia Southern and make getting a split this weekend our top priority.”

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