The women’s basketball team (6-4, 4-2) will be home to face Arkansas State University in a two-game series starting at 6 p.m. on Friday at the College Park Center.
Here are five keys to this weekend’s contest between the Lady Mavs and the Red Wolves.
1. Battle for second place in the Sun Belt West Division
Arkansas State suffered its first conference play losses after being swept by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette over the weekend. Prior to that, the Red Wolves had not lost a game since Nov. 27.
The two losses create a window for UTA to surpass Arkansas State in the rankings.
UTA is coming off a two-game split against Little Rock.
UTA and Arkansas State are 4-2 in conference play and currently sit behind Louisiana for the top spot in the West Division.
2. UTA’s offensive woes
The Lady Mavericks made just three of their 16 three-point attempts, good for 18.8%. They also made just 32.7% of their shots from the field.
Arkansas State ranks first in the Sun Belt in three-point defense, with 23.9%.
If the Lady Mavericks want to have a successful weekend against the Red Wolves, they will need to shoot better from beyond the arc.
3. Two best defenses in the conference
Both UTA and Arkansas State are among the best defensive teams in the Sun Belt Conference. UTA ranks first in points per game allowed with 54.4 per game, while Arkansas State ranks second in the conference, allowing 55.7 points per game.
Jireh Washington, Arkansas State junior guard, leads the Sun Belt in steals with 2.9 per game. Senior guard Jordynn Hernandez leads the Lady Mavericks in steals with 1.8 per game. Hernandez ranks eighth in the conference in that category.
The team that can limit their turnovers and create more opportunities for possessions will have an upper hand.
4. Limiting turnovers
Another part of UTA’s offensive struggles last weekend were turnovers. The Lady Mavericks had a hard time keeping possession in their two-game series against Little Rock.
UTA turned the ball over 22 times in their first game and gave Little Rock 24 points off of turnovers.
In their second game of the series, UTA coughed the ball up 21 times, leading to 16 points off turnovers for Little Rock.
A key for the Lady Mavericks will be limiting turnovers and making Arkansas State work on offense.
5. A loud crowd
Momentum shifting games for both schools could propel either team to the top of the conference depending on Louisiana's upcoming games.
The College Park Center is holding a capacity of 624 people, which could be a factor in both games.
The energy from those off the court will be needed as the two teams battle for supremacy near the top of the Sun Belt West Division.