UALR Women Roll Texas State, Advance to Sun Belt Championship

Local Sports
(UALR Trojans.com) Courtesy_ Sun Belt Conference _-7759761709680145379
NEW ORLEANSm LA (News release) – The UALR women’s basketball team left no doubt about its dominance over Texas State this season, defeating the Bobcats by at least 20 points for the third time this year on Friday afternoon.
The Trojans built their lead early in the half and cruised to an 87-44 victory over Texas State in the Sun Belt Tournament semifinals on Friday afternoon at Lakefront Arena, clinching a spot in the league’s title game for the sixth time in school history and first time since 2013.

UALR (27-4) will face either No. 2 seed Arkansas State or No. 6 seed Louisiana in the Sun Belt Championship Game on Saturday at 7 p.m. with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line. The Trojans last won the tournament championship in 2012.

The Trojans also tied a school record for victories with their beatdown of the Bobcats, reaching 27 wins for just the third time in school history and for the first time since 2009-10.

Alexius Dawn was the team’s spark offensively in the first half against Texas State (17-14), hitting five 3-pointers and ending the first 20 minutes with a team-high 18 points. She finished with a season-high 23 points while tying her career record with six 3-pointers. UALR had 44 points at halftime and the team scored what proved to be the game-winning basket 76 seconds into the second half.

Taylor Gault (18 points), Shanity James (17) and Kaitlyn Pratt (10) also reached double figures in scoring for UALR. James had her sixth double-double of the year with 11 rebounds, and her 17 points tied season high. Ka’Nesheia Cobbins also had another impressive stat line, finishing with nine rebounds and four assists to go along with her 5 points. Pratt contributed eight boards as well, and Gault led the team with two steals.

The team’s 43-point margin of victory was its best this year and its highest margin of victory since defeating Incarnate Word by 48 points in December 2013. The team’s 87 – a season high – was the most since Jan. 16, 2010 when it scored 88 against Louisiana. That number is also tied for the fourth-highest total in Joe Foley’s 12 years at the helm of the program.

The Trojans got off to a blazing start in the game, scoring their points in groups of three. Dawn hit two 3-pointers and Gault added another in the first five minutes, and Gault and Cobbins each had and-1 layups. Those five 3-point plays combined with a James layup gave UALR a 17-4 lead at the first media timeout just 4:45 into the game. The Trojans had a 12-0 run in that span before Kileah Mays ended things with a Bobcats layup. Texas State would never be within single digits again.

UALR’s lead continued to balloon over the rest of the half, as the Trojans continued to push in transition. Keys and Pratt got easy layups while Gault hit a jumper, and UALR had a 25-6 lead at the second media break.

But the real star in the first half continued to be Dawn. She made two more 3-pointers during the rest of the half including a banked-in shot in the final minute of the period, reaching 18 points at the break.

UALR held a 44-23 advantage at halftime and led by as many as 24 during the half. The Trojans’ 44 points marked the team’s third-best offensive half of the year. The team shot 53.3 percent from the field (16-30) while holding Texas State to 37.5 percent shooting (9-24). The Trojans also had nine assists at the break spread out across five different players.

The second half saw more of the same, with UALR extending its lead to more than 40 points and doubling up Texas State with a 70-35 lead at one point. The Trojans were 1 point shy of doubling the Bobcats’ total at the end of the game.

Keys had five point and two rebounds off the bench, while Kiera Clark tallied four points, two assists and three rebounds. Monique Townson banked in a 3-pointer late, and Lexus Williams also hit a field goal in the final minute.
The win was UALR’s fourth straight against the Bobcats. During the contest, James moved up to sixth all-time at UALR in defensive rebounds, and Gault scored the 1,900th point of her career.

Next up for the Trojans is the Sun Belt Championship Game on Saturday at 7 p.m. against either Arkansas State or Louisiana. The winner of the championship game earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

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