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Battle's deep shots give Trojans push

by Eli Lederman | March 7, 2021 at 2:37 a.m.

Senior Teal Battle drained a pair of three-pointers to bookend a 9-0 fourth-quarter run that propelled the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to a 75-68 victory over Georgia State in Saturday's Sun Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinal.

The victory sends UALR into today's semifinals against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Battle scored 10 points in the final quarter and matched a career-high 25 points inside Hartsell Arena in Pensacola, Fla., powering the Trojans to their 13th semifinals game in 14 tournament appearances.

"Coach [Joe] Foley tells us we have heart," Battle said. "I guess lately we've been playing with a lot of heart. We haven't really let the adversity take us out of our game. As much as we've dealt with, I think we've just kind of just let it go and moved forward."

West Division No. 3 seed UALR (15-10) shot 7 of 8 from three-point range and committed a season-low 6 turnovers to outlast East Division No. 2 seed Georgia State (13-11). The Trojans never trailed after the 3:11 mark in the second quarter, and grabbed a 65-56 advantage with 2:41 left on Battle's second three-pointer of the final quarter.

Ky'lie Scott scored 16 first-half points as UALR secured a 36-24 halftime advantage, and she navigated second-half foul trouble to finish with 22. Her 4-of-4 shooting from three-point range led UALR's 87.5% three-point performance, its best of the season.

Junior Mayra Caicedo had 10 assists to go with 9 points and 6 rebounds, and sophomore Angelique Francis pulled 10 rebounds and scored 7. Panthers junior Taylor Hosendove led Georgia State with 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.

The Trojans will face the Ragin Cajuns at 1:30 p.m. Central at the Pensacola Bay Center. UALR is 0-3 against Louisiana-Lafayette this season, including a two-game sweep on Feb. 26-27.

"If you told me we'd have this many freshmen on the floor and we're going to be in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Tournament, I would have called you crazy," Foley said. "These girls have proved that you can overcome a lot."

The Trojans shot 50% from the field in the first quarter, when Battle and Scott combined for 16 of the Trojans' 19 points.

Scott's fourth three-pointer of the half gave UALR a 26-24 lead with 6:54 to play in the second quarter, and she scored four points in the final 3:11 of the half.

"It's the first time we've seen man defense in a while," Foley said. "Ky'lie took on the pressure. Even though she's just a sophomore, she took the pressure well, got some good open looks and knocked them down. It made everyone feel comfortable."

Freshman Tia Harvey (seven points) put UALR ahead 42-36 early in the third quarter, but six points from Panthers sophomore Hannah Sadler kept Georgia State close as the Trojans entered the final quarter up 52-48.

Hosendove scored seven in the first 4:08 of the fourth quarter, tying the game at 56-56 with 5:52 remaining. Battle nailed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession and a second 2:01 later, scoring eight points in the 9-0 UALR run that allowed the Trojans to pull away.

"That three-pointer that she made was pretty well the turning point that broke the game open for us," Foley said. "She had enough guts to put herself in that position. Our kids know to look for her. Everybody knows she's our crunch player right now."

Tournament glance

SATURDAY’S QUARTERFINALS

UALR 75, Georgia State 68

Troy 103, Texas State 90, OT

Appalachian St. 54, Texas-Arlington 46.

La.-Lafayette 65, South Alabama 46

TODAY’S SEMIFINALS All times Central

Troy vs. Appalachian State, 11 a.m.

UALR vs. La.-Lafayette, 1:30 p.m.

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