In a game that featured two overtime periods and eight lead changes, the men’s basketball team (13-15, 9-6) pulled off a 91-86 win over the University of Louisiana Monroe on Saturday at College Park Center.
Head coach Chris Ogden said he wanted to give the Mavericks a spark by sending out a new starting five to open the game. Junior guard Brian Warren and freshman forward Ayoub Nouhi were the only two players to repeat as starters from Thursday’s matchup against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Freshman guard David Azore, junior forward Jabari Narcis and freshman forward Patrick Mwamba received the starting nod in Saturday’s game.
“We just didn’t get the effort we needed starting that game the other night,” Ogden said. “Starting is a real privilege; that’s something you earn, and those guys have earned it, so we moved them into the starting lineup.”
The Mavericks and the War Hawks started the game even, with both teams tied at 5-5 just a few minutes into the first half. The squads battled it out through the rest of the first period as both teams traded the lead four times before going into halftime.
UTA hit its stride in the final minutes of the first half and took a 36-26 lead into the locker room.
Warren led the Mavericks in scoring with 11 points, while Daishon Smith, senior guard for the University of Louisiana Monroe, led all scorers with 13 points.
The Mavericks came out of the gate hot to start the second half. Warren hit on two quick 3-pointers to extend UTA’s lead to 44-26. Louisiana-Monroe started a 7-0 scoring run with about 15 minutes left in the game to cut into UTA’s lead. Junior guard J.D. Williams and senior forward Travis Munnings scored two layups and Smith sank a 3-pointer to put the score at 49-43.
The War Hawks closed the gap multiple times in the second half and managed to tie up the game with 0:46 left in regulation. Louisiana-Monroe outscored UTA 43-33 in the second period to send the game into overtime with both teams tied at 69-69.
Smith tallied 15 points in the half, bringing his scoring total to 28 points in regulation. The guard successfully sank two free throws with 0:14 left in the game to tie the War Hawks and Mavericks.
Both teams remained deadlocked in the first overtime period. The Mavericks and the War Hawks traded the lead twice and it looked as if Louisiana-Monroe had the game under control after Smith scored a free throw to give the team a 78-75 lead with 0:33 left to play. Ten seconds later, Warren drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner to tie it up and send the game to a second overtime.
“It was wide open so I had to take it,” Warren said about the game-tying score. “If it wasn’t for my teammates setting me up, I wouldn’t have got the shot at all.”
The Mavericks outscored Louisiana-Monroe 13-8 in double overtime to give the team its ninth conference win of the season. Warren finished the game with a career-high 33 points on 10-20 shooting from the field.
“He came out at the start of the game looking to run the team, and he was moving the ball, and he was getting other guys involved,” Ogden said of Warren’s performance. “I just thought it was a great overall floor game.”
Warren said the team was running its offense the way it wanted to and didn’t settle for any shots.
The win against Lousiana-Monroe ended a three game losing streak for the Mavericks which dated back to their Feb. 14 game against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. It was also the team’s third overtime win of the season.
“We felt like we had slipped in some areas intensity-wise,” Ogden said of the losing streak. “To these guys’ credit, they came out, and they played with the same intensity that we had during that stretch where we were winning the games.”
With three conference games left on the schedule, UTA’s 9-6 record keeps the team in contention for any of the top four spots in the Sun Belt Conference.
Ogden said the team will have to stay focused to maintain its high momentum and intensity in the home stretch of the season.
“It starts with our preparation in the week and just knowing that we can get through anything in a game. But what we can’t get through is lack of effort and intensity,” Ogden said.
The men’s basketball team gets back on the road to face the University of South Alabama at 7 p.m. Thursday at Mitchell Center.