RUSTON, La. – The UALR women’s basketball team played a much stronger second half than first, but its poor opening 20 minutes doomed the team in a 50-39 loss at Louisiana Tech on Friday night.
The Trojans (4-5) managed just 12 points in the first half on 5 of 28 shooting and allowed 26 points by the Lady Techsters (4-7). That 14-point deficit proved too much to overcome despite the Trojans outscoring LA Tech and cutting down on mistakes drastically in the second period.
UALR got a team-high 10 points from Taylor Gault – all of them in the second half – while Kaitlyn Pratt led the way with 12 rebounds. Taylor Ford and Kiera Clark each had three assists while Ford brought down seven rebounds. Shanity James had nine points and eight rebounds at the end of the contest.
After committing 15 turnovers in the opening frame, the Trojans had only four in the second half. The team also shot 12 percent better from the field in the second period and ended the night out-rebounding LA Tech by a 46-40 margin. This was just the third time in nine games that the Trojans beat their opponent on the glass.
Still, UALR struggled in both halves drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. At game’s end, the Trojans only took seven free throws, making four of them. Friday night marked the fourth consecutive game that UALR did not reach double-digit free throw attempts. Meanwhile, the Lady Techsters went to the line 24 times, connecting on 15 of those shots.
The Trojans attempted to mount a comeback in the second half, stifling the Louisiana Tech offense for eight full minutes after the first media timeout. During that span, though, UALR only managed nine points of its own to cut a 17-point Lady Techsters lead down to eight with 8:30 left in the game.
The lead dropped down as low as seven after a Gault fast-break layup, but the Lady Techsters got fouled with 4:26 left in the game to go to the free throw line. UALR took a timeout, and LA Tech followed that timeout by making one free throw, stealing the ball from the Trojans and converting a 3-point play. With that, the contest went from 41-34 to 45-34, effectively putting a UALR victory out of reach.
The Trojans did get within seven points one more time as a Gault 3-pointer swished through the net with 1:53 to go, but two free throws and a layup sealed the night for the home team.
Freshman Antoina Robinson scored four points, all in the first half, to set a new career high. Senior Nia Gregory also played for the first time all year, seeing six minutes of action and getting one assist and one rebound. Freshman Sharde' Collins hit her second career 3-pointer in the first half, and classmate Di'Mond Jackson had four rebounds and two points in 16 minutes.
The final score might have been decided in the first half as UALR put up only 13 points. The period started out as a slog for the Trojans as they failed to score for the first six minutes. UALR had five fouls and five turnovers in that span before Pratt banked in a layup after a Ford pass. Still, eight minutes in, that was the only basket for the Trojans, and the Lady Techsters had an 8-2 lead.
Things didn’t get much better as the first 20 minutes continued, and at the end of it the Trojans had only scored 12 points. At one point, UALR substituted all five players on the court while LA Tech went on a 9-0 run. When the half concluded, UALR had turned the ball over 15 times, made only five baskets and committed 13 fouls to the Lady Techsters’ three.
UALR has now scored 12 points or fewer in its last three consecutive road games.
The Trojans now head into a brief holiday break before returning to action at home on Dec. 29 when UALR will take on visiting South Dakota State at 2 p.m.