Idaho pulls away in second half for 64-45 victory against UTSA
SAN ANTONIO — Idaho pulled away in the second half and snapped UTSA's four-game winning streak in a 64-45 victory Saturday night at the Convocation Center.
Sophomores Kamra King and Ashley Spaletta led UTSA (11-9, 5-4 WAC) with seven points apiece.
Meanwhile, Connie Ballestero, Jessica Graham and Christina Salvatore each finished with 13 for the Vandals (9-11, 6-3 WAC), who shot 42.3 percent and made 10-of-20 attempts from behind the arc en route to their third consecutive triumph. Alyssa Charlston added 11 points and five blocks.
Idaho wasted no time in expanding a 29-22 halftime lead in the early minutes of the second half.
Ballestero opened with a 3-pointer and followed a layup by UTSA redshirt freshman Mannasha Bell with a jumper for a 34-24 lead.
The Roadrunners, who shot just 27.1 percent from the floor and 26.3 percent from behind the arc, cut the deficit in half thanks to a triple from senior Simone Young and layup by classmate Cori Cooper, but that was as close as they got the rest of the way.
The Vandals defense turned up the pressure and the Birds missed their next 10 shots to go along with a pair of turnovers. Meanwhile, Idaho built a 15-point advantage with 10:18 to play and UTSA was unable to get any closer than 12 the rest of the way.
The Roadrunners took advantage of eight Idaho turnovers in the opening 20 minutes and converted them into 14 of their 22 points.
After the Vandals scored seven of the game’s first nine points, freshman Niaga Mitchell-Cole came away with a steal and was fouled while converting a layup. The San Antonio native hit the ensuing free throw to pull the Roadrunners to within two at 7-5.
Idaho answered with one of its five first-half 3-pointers before King stole an errant pass and, like Mitchell-Cole, came away with an old-fashioned 3-point play.
Minutes later, junior Miki Turner picked Charlston’s pocket for a steal and drove the length of the floor for a layup that gave UTSA its first lead of the contest, 16-15.
However, the advantage was short-lived, as Ballestero quickly put the Vandals ahead with a 3-pointer.
Mitchell-Cole’s step-back jumper with 6:32 to go in the half tied the game at 20, but both teams hit a rut offensively over the next few minutes.
Idaho was able to get back on track first and ended a scoring drought of nearly five minutes on a Salvatore layup with 3:05 on the clock. The basket sparked a half-ending 9-2 run.
UTSA’s lone bucket during the stretch was a layup from senior Whitney York with six seconds to play that pulled the Birds to within 27-22 at the break.
The Roadrunners will be back in action on Thursday, Jan. 31, when they face Denver (9-11, 4-5 WAC) in the Mile High City. The Pioneers defeated UTSA, 75-73, on Jan. 5 in San Antonio.