HOUSTON — UTSA received 17 points from Tesha Smith and pair of clutch free throws in the final seconds from Kamra King to defeat Rice, 63-61, and snap a six-game losing streak on Saturday at the Tudor Fieldhouse.
Smith finished the contest 8-for-13 from the field and scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half. King added 16 and Ashley Spaletta tallied another dozen in the victory. McKenzie Adams pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with seven points.
Jessica Kuster had her 61st career double-double to lead Rice (11-13, 4-7 C-USA) with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Nakachi Maduka added 16 points for the Owls.
UTSA (12-12, 3-8 C-USA) used an 11-0 run late in the first half to claim a 33-28 lead at halftime. King and Spaletta each had four points during the scoring surge that gave the Roadrunners a 33-24 edge following back-to-back layups from King at the 1:30 mark.
Rice answered with a jumper from Kuster and an Adaeze Obinnah layup just before the halftime buzzer to draw back within five.
Spaletta led all scorers at the break with 10 points followed by King with nine. McKenzie Adams added four points and six rebounds as UTSA held a 22-18 advantage on the glass at the halfway point.
The Owls emerged from the halftime break with a 6-2 run to take a 36-35 lead with Kuster, C-USA’s third leading scorer, accounting for all six points.
The back-and-forth contest then swung back in UTSA’s favor on the strength of back-to-back buckets by Smith during an 8-0 run to regain the lead, 43-36.
A 7-0 return run from the Owls tied the game, 43-43, before another 8-0 Roadrunners dash, punctuated by Miki Turner’s 3-pointer from the top of the key, pushed the UTSA lead back to eight with 10:06 remaining.
Elena Gumbs two free throws with 6:45 remaining culminated a 9-0 Owls run to give Rice its first lead, 55-54, in over 11-minutes of game time.
The lead would change hands five times the rest of the way. Kuster gave Rice a 61-60 lead with 57-seconds left before King drew a foul on Obinnah on the other end and calmly sank both foul shots to regain the lead, 62-61, with 31-seconds on the clock.
After calling a timeout, Rice’s Gumbs got a good look from behind the arc on the left wing that sailed just long and careened skyward and corralled by Adams with three-seconds left.
Adams stepped to the free throw line after a succession of Rice timeouts and made the first free throw. The senior forward’s second attempt missed off the right side of the rim and was rebounded by Kuster who cast a half court prayer that fell well short to give the Roadrunners their first win since Jan. 18 at North Texas.
UTSA will return home on Thursday when it hosts East Carolina (20-3, 8-2 C-USA) at 7 p.m.