In a battle between in-state rivals, the women's basketball team (16-5, 8-2) dominated the court early to defeat Texas State University 68-53 on Saturday at College Park Center.
Freshman guard Claire Chastain and junior guard Aysia Evans came off the bench and ended the game with career-high scoring outputs. Chastain scored 21 points, while Evans put up 19 on 7-8 shooting.
Evans said she built off her last performance against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she tied her then 13 point career-high.
Head coach Krista Gerlich said playing in-state rivals is always intense. She said it was difficult at times for the team to score, but she credited her players for finding a rhythm and battling it out.
“I love the problems that they’re giving me to try to figure out the pieces of the puzzle,” Gerlich said.
Senior guard Lauren Billie started the scoring for the Lady Mavericks with a 3-pointer early in the first period. Freshman guard Terryn Milton added three points after she was fouled on a layup while senior guard Cierra Johnson helped extend the lead with three early free throws. UTA took a quick 9-2 lead over the Bobcats.
Evans came off the bench and added a spark to the attack with five points.
UTA capitalized on Texas State's inconsistent shooting to finish the first quarter with a 24-6 lead.
The Lady Mavericks held a lead of at least 13 points throughout the entire second quarter. Texas State shot 6-23 from the field, while UTA went 12-19 to close out the period.
UTA went into the break with a 36-22 halftime lead. Evans led both teams in scoring with 13 points.
“Aysia really carried us in the first half,” Gerlich said. “We were really struggling in the first half offensively. She hit some big shots.”
The third quarter was defined by missed shots and free throws. Both teams missed a total of 17 shots and scored only 22 points in the period.
With just over three minutes to play, Texas State forward Jayla Johnson got involved in a scuffle with freshman guard Katie Ferrell. Both players received personal fouls for their involvement.
Chastain missed her two ensuing free throws while Texas State guard Toshua Leavitt buried hers to put the Bobcats within eight points. Evans later knocked down two of her own free throws as UTA ended the period with a 34-46 lead.
Chastain helped keep UTA in the driver’s seat with an immediate 3-pointer at the start of the fourth quarter. The Bobcats fought throughout the period as they tried to close in on the Lady Mavericks’ lead.
“We talk a lot about them being their own coaches on the floor and having some huddles,” Gerlich said. “I want them to be able to figure out how to do that.”
Chastain reached her new career-high of 21 points after she hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to extend UTA’s lead to 64-48.
“Every game, [Chastain] gets better and better and better,” Gerlich said. “She had some really big shots tonight from the three, and I just love her athleticism and ability to get to the rim.”
A couple of Cierra Johnson's free throws later in the quarter gave the Lady Mavericks a 20-point advantage, ending any chances of a comeback for the visitors as the game ended 68-53. Cierra Johnson finished the matchup with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Gerlich said the game showcased the depth the team has across the board.
“If our starters aren’t getting it done, then we can go to the next group,” Gerlich said. “Whoever is getting it done, that’s a huge part of what we’re doing this year.”
The Lady Mavericks hit the road again to take on Coastal Carolina University on Feb. 7 at HTC Center.