ARLINGTON, Texas – Amadou Sow scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half, including a huge put-back with 37 seconds to play, and visiting UC Santa Barbara was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 23 seconds, handing UT-Arlington a 72-68 loss on Saturday afternoon.
The Mavericks (4-6) took a 31-29 lead by scoring the first basket of the second half, but the Gauchos (6-3), who won their fifth straight game, went on a 15-3 run to take a 44-34 lead. The 10-point lead was the first of three they enjoyed in the final 20 minutes.
But UTA rallied back, tying the score for the final time at 59 apiece when guard Sam Griffin made 1-of-2 free throws with 4:16 left in the game.
With 3:57 remaining, Sow took a pass in the lane and scored on a nifty lift shot right at the rim. He was fouled on the play and made the free throw to give UCSB a 62-59 lead. The teams were scoreless for the next 1:35, but a breakaway slam dunk by Jordan Phillips with 2:22 on the clock narrowed the gap to 62-61.
At the 1:58 mark it was again Sow to the Gauchos’ rescue as he powered into the paint for a contested layup to make it 64-61. But the Mavericks raced up the court and David Azore scored on a layup to make it 64-63 with just over a minute to play, setting the stage for Sow’s big rebound and follow of a Brandon Cyrus miss with 0:37 remaining to make it a 66-63 game.
Azore missed a jumper on the other end with Sow gathering the rebound and passing the ball to Devearl Ramsey. Ramsey was fouled by Brian Warren and made both free throws with 23 seconds left, stretching the lead to 68-63.
Warren was fouled on the offensive end and he drained a pair of free throws at the 0:18 mark, making it a 68-65 game.
Following a treacherous inbounds, JaQuori McLaughlin, who finished with 22 points, his highest total since transferring to UCSB, calmly made two more free throws with 17 ticks left on the clock, giving his team a 70-65 advantage.
Radshad Davis sank a long three-pointer with 6.6 seconds to play and the Mavericks quickly fouled Matt Freeman on the inbounds. Freeman, who was 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final seven seconds of UCSB’s narrow win at Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday, calmly made two more on Saturday, to make the final score 72-68.
Sow was the story of the game in the second half. Not only did he score 21 points, he was a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range.
“It was about being patient,” Sow said. “I didn’t get a lot of chances in the first half, but I knew my teammates would get me going in the second half. They really got me the ball in great positions to score.”
Sow added six rebounds, two steals and a pair of blocked shots to his 23 points, which equaled his high against a D-1 opponent.
“Amadou was tremendous in the second half,” said head coach “Joe Pasternack. “He came out more aggressive and we knew it was important that we get him more involved than he was in the first half.”
The teams were dead even at halftime, 29-29. The Gauchos’ largest lead of the first half was six points, while the Mavericks never led by more than two. McLaughlin kept UCSB in the game with 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Freeman finished with nine points, but was limited due to foul trouble. Sékou Touré had six rebounds, four points and one steal off the bench.
UTA was led bu Griffin with 16 points. Phillips added 14, while Azore had 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
The Gauchos will remain on the road when they travel to Southern Utah on Saturday, Dec. 14 for a 1:00 p.m. (PST) game against the Thunderbirds.