Perhaps exactly what the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's women's basketball team needed was the warm embrace of 1,627 screaming school children.
As an answer to their first losing streak in 2019, the Trojans returned to form Thursday at the team's annual "School Day," shellacking last-place Georgia Southern 80-51 in front of 1,000-plus dancing and pom-pom-waving students from more than five local schools.
The stench of UALR's back-to-back losses at Texas State on Feb. 16 and at Arkansas State on Feb. 23 was washed clean Thursday against the Eagles, whom now have lost six consecutive games.
With the Sun Belt Conference Tournament less than two weeks away, the Trojans (16-10, 12-3) were motivated to expunge themselves of why the recent losses piled up.
"The bad taste is finally out of our mouths," said senior forward Ronjanae DeGray. "It's time to get back to what we're used to doing -- winning."
The Eagles (7-20, 2-14) were overmatched by UALR. The Trojans were more athletic, carried a much deeper bench and were vastly more talented.
Georgia Southern's bench, a 16-seat row of chairs, had eight cushions unfilled. Five players served as its entire bench and several were slumped with their heads in their hands throughout the blowout at the Jack Stephens Center.
UALR spent the first 3:52 minutes sprinting out to an 8-0 lead, not allowing Georgia Southern to score a point until 6:08 remaining in the first quarter.
The Eagles never held a lead, and they never come close.
The Trojans received 19 combined points from sophomore guards Tori Lasker and Terrion Moore in the first half to build a 39-28 lead at halftime.
Lasker and Moore, who UALR Coach Joe Foley said he removed from Saturday's starting lineup as a coaching decision, returned to Thursday's starting lineup and produced as Foley hoped.
Lasker finished with 16 total points and made 4 of 6 three-pointers and had 10 assists. Moore added 11 points.
"It's good to see them back to their old selves," said DeGray, who scored 10.
UALR junior guard Kyra Collier led all Trojans with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting, had 6 assists and 4 steals.
Georgia Southern had a tough time scoring, making 18 of 45 total attempts. It committed 22 total turnovers. The Eagles had an ever harder time defending.
The Trojans scored 42 total points in the paint and mauled the Eagles' interior defense at every opportunity. UALR also scored 26 points off Georgia Southern's 22 turnovers and went 11 of 16 at the free throw line.
"We thought we were a little bit bigger than they were," Foley added. "Most of the time, we don't have that advantage. But we thought we were a little bigger than they were and a little quicker."
Seventy-nine of UALR's 80 points were either scored inside, earned because of its defense or were gimmes at the free-throw line.
"We just had a game plan," DeGray said. "We don't take any team lightly. They fought as best they could, but thankfully we prepared to get us where we are now, with a win."
While beating Georgia Southern helped keep the Trojans as one of the Sun Belt's top two seeds, which is important for the Sun Belt Tournament, Thursday's game was most beneficial for UALR to correct its in-house issues.
Earlier this week, Foley cited complacency from winning nine consecutive games throughout the middle of the Sun Belt season as reason for UALR's two-game losing streak. Foley also said immaturity 0inflamed the complacency issue.
The victory was important for the Trojans to rid themselves of those issues and to, as Foley said, "get hot" late in the season right before the tournament begins March 11.
"That's what we're trying to do," Foley said. "We hope so. Hopefully, now, we've turned the page."
Sports on 03/01/2019
Print Headline: Trojans put hurt on Eagles