LITTLE ROCK – The UALR women’s basketball team nearly lost a big second-half lead, but the team was able to hold on late thanks to a clutch Taylor Ford 3-pointer to defeat Texas State 77-70 in the Jack Stephens Center on Wednesday night.
UALR (9-8, 4-3 Sun Belt Conference) was led by junior Taylor Gault with 23 points in a game that featured far more offense than the first meeting between the conference foes. Texas State (6-11, 3-3 SBC) won that game 42-35 on Jan. 2 in San Marcos, Texas.
The Trojans held a comfortable double-digit lead for much of the second half in this meeting, going ahead by as many as 18 with 12 minutes to play. But for the second consecutive contest, UALR’s opponent clawed back into the game and with a minute to play the Trojans’ lead was down to just 70-66. Texas State went to the line and hit two free throws to make it a one-possession game with 59 seconds remaining.
But Ford, a senior, had the answer when she hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc with just over 30 seconds to play. Gault and junior Kiera Clark went to the line and hit four straight free throws to ice the game for the Trojans.
UALR has re-tied the lifetime series with Texas State at 3-3, claiming all three games in the teams’ history in Little Rock. UALR is now 3-0 in conference play at the Jack Stephens Center this season and 7-1 overall at home.
After trailing by nine at the half, the Bobcats were able to cut the lead down to six in the early moments of the second frame. However, the Trojans responded in a big way.
Sparked by back-to-back jumpers by senior Hannah Fohne, UALR scored 12 unanswered points over a six minute span to build an 18-point lead. Texas State responded with a 17-4 run of its own and with 4:17 left the Trojans’ lead was down to five. But with the game close, UALR responded with big shots and left the home crowd happy.
Gault reached at least 20 points for the fifth time in six games since going scoreless in the first meeting with Texas State. She also added five rebounds and three assists and shot 8 of 8 from the free-throw line. Ford didn’t score in the first half but came through in the clutch with 11 points in the second to go along with a game-high six assists.
Clark posted 16 points and four rebounds while sophomore Shanity James stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Freshman Kaitlyn Pratt added eight points off the bench hitting all four of her shots. Freshman Sharde' Collins and Fohne each tallied four points to round out the scoring. Fohne also hit her 200th career field goal in the game.
Ford had two rebounds in the game, moving her into a tie for 10th place all-time at UALR, and Clark recorded her 100th career assist. James reached 400 career points in the first half.
UALR shot 57.7 percent from the floor and knocked down 15 of 18 shots (83.3 percent) from the free throw line. The Trojans also outrebounded their opponents 29-28 and outscored the Bobcats in the paint 24-16. The 70 points scored by Texas State is the most UALR has allowed in a win this season, and the Trojans are now 8-2 this season when they score at least 60 points.
The Trojans will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to Jonesboro, Ark. for a showdown with in-state rival and conference-leading Arkansas State.