The University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks came to Hanner Fieldhouse on Monday night to take on the Eagles with first place in the Sun Belt Conference on the line. The Eagles came into the game in second at 10-4 in conference play, while the Mavericks were in first at 10-3. GS came into the game with a nine-game home winning streak.
The Sun Belt’s leading scorer, GS sophomore guard Ike Smith, came out firing with 11 of the Eagles’ first 14 points. UTA junior forward and leading scorer Kevin Hervey and senior guard Jalen Jones had eight early points apiece. The teams traded baskets early and often, exchanging the lead multiple time throughout the first half.
Smith stayed hot and ended the first half with 19 points – right around his season points-per-game average – including 4 of 5 shooting from three-point range. Hervey led UTA with 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half, in which the Mavericks out-rebounded the Eagles 21 to 13. The Eagles, though, took a 40-37 lead into the locker room on a buzzer-beating deep three-pointer by junior forward B.J. Gladden.
Ike Smith scored the first basket of the half on a post-up to get the Eagles’ started in the half. Junior guard Devonte Boykins gave the Eagles a lift off the bench, nailing all four of his three-point attempts and playing staunch backcourt defense against UTA’s junior point guard Erick Neal, who came in sixth in the nation in assists per game. UTA took its first lead since the first half, 59-58, with just under 10 minutes to play in the game.
Maverick senior guard Drew Charles nailed a three to give UTA its largest lead of the game up to that point, 72-65 with 4:37 to go in the game. Hervey made a three to push the UTA lead to 10 and increase his double-double to 22 points and 11 rebounds. The Mavericks would never relinquish that lead, finishing off the Eagles with free throws and defense. Hervey would finish with 28 points and 12 rebounds. His front-court mate, senior forward Jorge Bilbao, had 16 points and eight rebounds.
UTA took a one-game lead in the conference as GS fell behind Arkansas State to finish the night in third place in the Sun Belt. Ike Smith finished with 27 points for the Eagles in the loss. The Mavericks would finish the game with 42 rebound to Georgia Southern’s 23. UTA would finish with an 81-71 victory at Hanner Fieldhouse.
GS will travel to Little Rock next Monday at 9 p.m.