The Georgia Southern women's basketball squad shot a season-best 51.9 percent from the floor in picking up its first Sun Belt Conference win of the season, defeating UT Arlington 73-68 on Saturday afternoon at Hanner Fieldhouse.
The win also snapped a losing streak that had grown to 13 games for the Eagles (4-16, 1-8 SBC). Georgia Southern did it by shooting 15 points better from the field than it had against a league opponent this season.
The season-high in shooting came off of a record-setting performance by point guard Amira Atwater, who had 13 assists on the day, breaking the previous record of 12 set by Gwenda Smith vs. Furman on Feb. 13, 1993, and Vet Cooper vs. Tennessee State on Nov. 23, 1990.
The Eagles shot a season-best 52 percent from the field in the first half, but UTA shot 54.8 percent in building a 40-32 lead. Georgia Southern came out in the second half and made five of its first seven shots from the floor - capped by a Trellanie English-Lurry three-pointer that would give Georgia Southern its first lead of the game.
A layup by Rhein Beamon pushed the Eagles' lead to three, 51-48, with 2:12 left in the fhird quarter, but a three-point play by Laurynn McGowen and a three-pointer by Crystal Allen put the Mavericks back in front, 54-51, at the end of the third quarter.
UTA pushed its lead to seven, 60-53, with 6:20 left on a McGowen jumper, but the Eagles tied things up with a 7-0 run, capped by an Alexis Brown three-pointer from 25 feet out at the top of the key, that made the score 60-all with 3:41 left.
Hailey Dias-Allen then canned a 3-pointer with 1:11 left to put the Eagles back in front, 65-62. UTA's VanDijk hit a layup with 51 seconds left to get within one, but Alexis Foulks' driving layup with 33 seconds left put GS back up by three. An entry pass intended for VanDijk was off her fingertips out of bounds with 24.7 seconds left, forcing the Mavericks to foul. The Eagles made six straight free throws in the final 24 seconds to clinch the victory.
"It all starts with Amira [Atawater]," Georgia Southern Head Coach Kip Drown said. "You look, she had 13 assists, five the other night. And she would have had more had we made baskets. She puts us in such a great tempo, she's giving the kids great looks. Trell [English-Lurry] hit a couple of big threes in the second half that came from her in transition. We're starting to play with some rhythm."
Five Eagles reached double digit scoring, led by Franks' 16 points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field, but a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Dias-Allen scored a career-high 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor, while Trellanie English-Lurry collected 11 points - all coming in the third quarter. Foulks and Beamon each chipped in 10 points.
UTA was led by Rebekah VanDijk's 20 points and 10 rebounds on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting from the floor, a program record for the Mavericks. Allen had 18 points while McGowen added 13 points.
"I am so proud of our kids, it's all about them," Coach Drown said about the first conference win. "They kept hanging in there and they haven't gotten any reward lately. They come to practice, keep getting better, and it's tough to keep fighting through that all the time."