UTA bench helps overwhelm Spartans, 81-74
Among the dictionary definitions of the word dominate is “to be the major factor or influence in.” And what the UT Arlington reserves showed Thursday night against San Jose State was textbook proof of that description.
The Mavericks used a commanding 49-8 edge in bench scoring to record an 81-74 win over the visiting Spartans in a Western Athletic Conference tilt at College Park Center.
The result, coupled with Louisiana Tech’s 84-61 win over Utah State, propelled UTA (16-10, 10-5) into sole possession of fourth place in the WAC standings. San Jose State fell to 9-17 overall and 3-12 in conference play.
UTA coach Scott Cross said his team doesn’t have a set starting five like in years past, and the players he inserts into the game have starting experience at various points in the season.
But the ones he brought off the bench against San Jose State definitely tipped the scales of balance in the Mavericks’ favor.
“I think every one of these guys that played (is) capable of being starters,” Cross said. “They all bring different things to the table, but it was great to see when you’re whole team scores. The lowest was four points out of all of them. That’s pretty impressive.”
The top three scorers in the game for UTA came from the bench. Jamel Outler led the team for the second straight outing, tallying 15 points, while Karol Gruszecki finished close behind with 14 and Greg Gainey contributed 13.
Gruszecki’s three-pointer with 3:10 to play in the first half put the Mavericks in front to stay, 30-28. He scored seven of UTA’s last 12 points of the half to give his team a 39-30 edge at intermission.
“All the points I scored in the game, except for two free throws, came from assists,” Gruszecki said. “I was just knocking down open shots and trying to run the floor quickly. This week in practice, we were focusing on playing fast on offense. That’s how we were playing today.”
UTA held an 18-2 edge on fast break points, and 22-5 on points off of turnovers, showing that the hard work in practice paid off.
The Spartans got back to within eight on six possessions in the second half, but never got any closer until the last five seconds of the game.
“When we play slow, we’re very easy to guard,” Cross said. “When we play fast, it at least gives us a fighting chance. We’ve got to defend and then try and get some buckets in transition. It makes us a lot better when we play with speed.”
San Jose State’s Louis Garrett hit 5-of-10 from three-point range for 15 of his game-high 25 points. D.J. Brown added 16 points, Chris Cunningham added 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Xavier Jones chipped in 11 points for the Spartans.
Jordan Reves was the lone UTA starter in double figures, finishing with 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Reves ranks 30th in the nation in blocked shots.
UTA plays its final home game of the season at College Park Center Saturday against Utah State. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m., and it will be the final collegiate game for Reves, Gruszecki, Kevin Butler and Cameron Catlett.