SAN MARCOS — Playing for the first time in 17 days the UTSA women’s basketball team picked up a hard fought 86-83 victory over I-35 rival Texas State, Sunday at Strahan Coliseum.
Miki Turner led four Roadrunners in double figures with 14 points. Kamra King and Ashley Spaletta each pitched in 13 while Mannasha Bell tallied another 12 in UTSA’s highest scoring output of the season.
Showing little sign of rust from their extended layoff, the Roadrunners raced out to an 11-0 lead courtesy of six points from Akunna Elonu. Texas State rallied to within 13-8, but King delivered a 3-pointer from the left wing and Niaga Mitchell-Cole tallied an old fashioned 3-point play a minute later to stretch the UTSA lead to 19-11. UTSA (6-4) connected on nine of its first 12 field goal attempts.
The Bobcats (2-8) narrowed the UTSA lead to two on two separate occasions in the latter stages of the half, first on a pair of Ashley Ezeh free throws at the 5:49 mark and a second time on Kaitlin Walla’s 3-pointer with 3:12 remaining. The Roadrunners responded to close the opening half on a 9-4 to take a 48-41 lead into the halftime break.
Elonu led the way in the opening 20 minutes with nine points and four rebounds while King, Mitchell-Cole, and Turner each chipped in eight in the Roadrunners highest scoring half of the season. UTSA claimed a 23-16 edge on the glass and an 8-2 advantage on second chance points.
It was more of the same in the second half as UTSA was able to withstand multiple Texas State scoring runs with timely field goals and a gritty performance at the free throw line. The Roadrunners finished the contest with 29 free throw makes compared to only 31 attempts by the Bobcats.
Hanging onto a 61-56 lead, Spaletta ignited a 6-2 Roadrunners spurt with an offensive rebound and putback of a missed 3-pointer with 12:10 remaining.
After the Bobcats closed the UTSA lead to 70-66 with a pair of buckets, Spaletta again reversed the games momentum with a 3-pointer from the left wing on a drive and kick from Dwanisha Tate.
Following two Bell free throws that put UTSA ahead 84-78, the rival Bobcats made one final push netting five straight points to get within one, 84-83, on Jasmine Baugus’ jumper with 22 seconds left.
It wasn’t enough as Turner stepped to the charity stripe and knocked down a pair of free throws to inch the UTSA cushion back to three and was a key defender in the Bobcats final attempt to tie the game that saw Kaitlin Walla’s 3-pointer sail wide right without drawing iron with one second left on the clock.
Walla’s 17 points, with 16 coming in the first half led the Bobcats.
UTSA returns home for the UTSA Holiday Classic, Dec. 28-29 beginning with a 2 p.m. tip Saturday against North Dakota State (3-8).