Thousands of fans cheer as Mavericks seize Homecoming victory

The Mavericks celebrate the win over the University of Northern Iowa on Nov. 10 at College Park Center. The Mavericks finished the game outscoring the Panthers by ten in the second half. 

Almost 4,000 fans filled the seats of College Park Center on Saturday as the men’s basketball team (2-0) defeated the University of Northern Iowa 74-65 to put a happy ending to Homecoming weekend.

“All the credit, every bit of the credit, goes to these players,” head coach Chris Ogden said. “They truly, truly, truly won this game. They came in, they were focused, they handled the ups and the downs, and at the end of the game, they closed it.”

The win marks the program’s first back-to-back 2-0 start since the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.

The Mavericks opened up the first half kind of slow, but once they got their momentum going, the team led for the majority of the first half.

Ogden described his starting lineup as versatile. He said although his lineup is small, it has a lot of speed with a lot of guys that can make plays off the bounce.

Northern Iowa crept up on the UTA lead toward the 10-minute mark, going on as much as a 6-0 run to feed the deficit. Once the Panthers jumped ahead, the UTA defense cranked up its intensity, limiting Northern Iowa to no more than a four-point lead.

With a little over two minutes to play in the first half, junior guards Brian Warren and Edric Dennis contributed to the Mavericks’ 5-0 run to give UTA a slim lead.

In response, the Panthers knocked down a 3-pointer in the final 45 seconds to lead 33-32 heading into the break.

UTA dived into the second half with a quick six points right off the bat to regain the lead. Although the Panthers responded with four points of their own to knot the game, the Mavericks went on a 14-6 run that would see UTA add on to its advantage.

With a little over 10 minutes on the clock, both teams were left scoreless for almost two minutes, until foul trouble gave Northern Iowa some time on the charity stripe. Assisted by hot shooting from Warren and junior guard Tiandre Jackson-Young, the Mavericks pushed their lead to as much as 11 points.

Trailing 64-53, the Panthers began to close in on the Maverick lead and brought themselves within a 3-pointer of tying the game.

From there, foul trouble and a big dunk from freshman guard David Azore in the final seconds allowed UTA to cruise to the win.

Warren led the team with a game-high 19 points while Azore followed behind with 16 points of his own. Dennis secured his first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

With this game marking the first Homecoming for a lot of the Mavericks, Dennis described UTA as a special university, giving the fans credit in the win.

“I want [the fans] to celebrate this win as well because they really helped us tonight,” Dennis said.

The Mavericks return to the hardwood to take on Texas A&M University Corpus Christi at 7 p.m. Friday at College Park Center.

“Our mindset will never change. We’re going to get aggressive, we’re going to attack,” Ogden said. “I just believe that at the end of the day, we can win like that.”

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