UTSA holds off Austin Peay in Thanksgiving Classic opener, 69-67
SAN ANTONIO — UTSA closed the first half on a 15-1 run to grab a lead it would not relinquish and the Roadrunners held off Austin Peay, 69-67, on Friday night in the opening game of the UTSA Thanksgiving Classic at the Convocation Center.
Sophomore Kamra King led the Roadrunners (4-1) with 10 points, while five other players had at least seven.
Meanwhile, Meghan Bussabarger led all scorers with 20 to pace the Lady Govs (1-3).
UTSA opened the contest with an 8-1 burst that was led by the front court.
Senior Jalisa Montgomery got the home squad on the board first with a pair of free throws and also had a layup in the stretch that also included baskets from seniors Whitney Wright and Lyndi Thorman.
Austin Peay missed its first five shots, but it quickly heated up from the floor and knocked down its next eight, most of which came during an 11-0 run. The hot streak turned a seven-point deficit into a 21-15 lead.
The advantage grew to as much as seven with 7:13 to go in the half before UTSA turned up the defense and rattled off its big run.
Sophomore Ashley Spaletta started the spurt with four points on a 3-pointer and free throw, while back-to-back layups from Montgomery and Cooper helped the Roadrunners reclaim the lead at 25-24.
Fellow sophomore Jenny Menz sandwiched two baskets, a 15-foot jumper and a 3-pointer, around a Cooper layupm which gave UTSA a 32-25 halftime advantage.
The Lady Govs only point during the stretch was a Bussabarger free throw, as Austin Peay missed its last 11 shots of the period.
Meanwhile, the Roadrunners shot 52 percent and they were aided by 21 bench points.
The Lady Govs missed theit first two shots of the second half before Kristen Stainback’s 3-pointer ended the 0-for-13 drought.
However, UTSA scored 11 of the next 17 points to grab its first double-digit lead of the night, 43-32, with 13:47 to go.
Wright opened the scoring with a basket before Thorman hit a jumper and a pair of free throws. Freshman Niaga Mitchell-Cole scored five of her eight points during the stretch with a 3-pointer and layup.
Minutes later, a Cooper layup gave the Roadrunners their largest lead of the night at 47-35.
However, Austin Peay did not go quietly, as it went on an 11-0 run over the next 3:23 to trim the deficit to one, 47-46, with nearly eight minutes to play.
That was as close as the Lady Govs got until there were just six seconds left in the contest.
Senior Simone Young answered with a driving layup that was followed by free throws from Montgomery.
A Bussaburger three-point play again made it a one-possession game, but King knocked down a 3-pointer and Cooper scored inside to give the Roadrunners some breathing room.
Austin Peay made one last push in the final 30 seconds with a pair of 3-pointers by Nicole Olszewski, but UTSA hit five free throws to hold on for the victory.
The Roadrunners dominated the glass with 46 rebounds, including 14 on the offensive end that led to 13 second-chance points. Cooper, Mitchell-Cole and Young finished with eight boards each and that group accounted for nine offensive boards.
UTSA also held a 32-18 edge in the paint and scored 19 points off of 16 Lady Govs turnovers.
The Roadrunners will be back in action at 4 p.m. on Sunday when they face William & Mary (1-3) in the final game of the tournament.