The men’s basketball team (6-12, 2-5) couldn’t pick up a second consecutive Sun Belt Conference victory after falling to Coastal Carolina University by a score of 82-77 Saturday at College Park Center.
Head coach Chris Ogden said his team needs to get better at executing plays in high-pressure situations.
“Welcome to life in the Sun Belt, another one-possession game. We’re just not making the plays we need to make,” Ogden said. “We’ve gotta get a lot better execution- and discipline-wise.”
UTA trailed for most of the first half. Coastal Carolina had the upper hand for about 17 minutes in the period, their largest lead coming with 8:46 left on the clock when they had a 29-18 advantage.
A strong performance from the bench helped the Mavericks close out the first half on a strong note. Nineteen of the 37 points UTA scored in the period came from the reserves. Freshman guard Sam Griffin and senior forward Radshad Davis were big contributors, scoring eight and seven points, respectively.
UTA gained its largest lead five minutes into the second half. Sophomore guard David Azore scored a quick six points to put the Mavericks ahead 47-39.
“[Azore] is an all-conference player,” Ogden said. “He’s a really good player, really skilled, smart, intelligent.”
The Houston native finished the contest with a team-leading 26 points, but it wasn’t enough as Coastal Carolina outscored the Mavericks 45-40 in the second period to seal the win.
Azore said his team will be ready for the latter part of its regular season schedule when the conference tournament comes around in February and March.
“Us as a team, we know how good we are,” Azore said. “We know how close we are, and we just gotta keep playing.”
The men’s basketball team will continue its conference slate at 7 p.m. Thursday against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
“We’re right there, there’s nobody in the Sun Belt that’s better than anybody else,” Ogden said. “Everybody’s about the same. This league will beat up each other for a long time, and then the championship will be decided in late February.”