By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay
A women’s college basketball duel between scrappy defenses unfolded Friday night at the Convocation Center, and in the end, the UTSA Roadrunners out-scrapped the New Mexico State Aggies, 58-55.
The Roadrunners willed themselves out of a five-point halftime deficit and into the euphoric realm of their first victory of the season by holding the Aggies to a combined 24 points over the course of the third and fourth quarters.
Another highlight of the team’s home opener centered around the play of two freshmen, guard Aysia Proctor and forward Idara Udo.
Proctor, who played in high school last season at Clemens in the San Antonio area, hit eight of nine shots from the field and scored a team-high 19 points.
Udo, from Plano East in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, contributed a steal and a blocked shot in the final minute to help fend off the Aggies.
The last 2:34 of the game was definitely a “how-about-that” type of moment for 712 fans who were watching to see what would happen down the stretch without injured Roadrunners star forward Jordyn Jenkins.
The two freshmen didn’t flinch, and UTSA ended up celebrating a significant victory against a team that won 18 games last season.
“I loved it,” UTSA senior Kyra White said. “I believe they both played well. Aysia, I’ve seen it first hand, how she can score the basketball. So, just having that element out there, it really takes a lot of pressure off me, Sid (Love) and Elyssa (Coleman).
“And Idara just being a big physical presence down there, it allows us guards to know that we can get up and pressure the ball, knowing we have somebody at the back, behind us, protecting the rim.”
With the crowd on edge near the end of the game, Proctor circled the defense, caught a looping pass from White and hit a layup for five-point UTSA lead with 2:34 remaining.
Udo saved her dramatics for the final 31 seconds. First, she made a steal and then she blocked Molly Kaiser’s shot with seven seconds left.
After the block against a driving Kaiser, the crowd erupted, with Udo and teammate Hailey Atwood jumping up for an emphatic chest-bump.
“When she got that block, I was super excited for her,” said Proctor, who sank one of two free throws with three seconds left for the game’s final point. “That’s my girl, Idara.”
UTSA opened the season on Monday on the road at Arizona State. Playing without Jenkins, who is recovering from a knee injury, it was not a positive experience for the Roadrunners, who fell behind by as many as 27 points before losing 70-55.
Against New Mexico State, UTSA shot it poorly in the first half but didn’t collapse.
“It’s been a long time since we played (at home),” UTSA coach Karen Aston said. “So I think it was exciting for everyone to get back in the Convo. It’s been a good place for us. Our crowds have grown. Our players get excited to play at home. We looked like a different team tonight than we did in Arizona.”
Aston said maybe the Roadrunners “took a growth step” in Arizona in learning how to deal with pressure. At Tempe, Aston said it looked like her players “played with fear.”
“Tonight I thought we stayed calm,” she said. “We didn’t look rattled by anything. It’s hard to describe how much we improved in 48 hours defensively, so I’m super proud of that. I think we’ll shoot the ball better than we shot tonight. I’m not worried about that. These kids are in the gym all the time. I know that improvement will happen.”
New Mexico State 0-2
UTSA at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Wednesday, at 7 p.m.
The Roadrunners played extended portions of the game with an all-San Antonio area backcourt of Kyra White (Judson High School), Sidney Love (Steele) and Proctor (Clemens).
The second quarter opened with the game tied, but New Mexico State surged late in the period behind forward Tylie Jones to take a 31-26 lead.
Down by five at the break, the Roadrunners turned it on in the third period, outscoring the Aggies 19-9 to take a 45-40 advantage. Proctor and White had five points each in the run and Maya Linton, hustling on both ends of the floor, scored four.
New Mexico State — Six-foot forward Tylie Jones scored 17 points and stepped out to hit four of five from the three-point arc. Guards Molly Kaiser and Sabou Gueye had 13 points apiece. Gueye was busy in many facets of the game, gathering seven rebounds (four on the offensive glass) and making four steals. Ene Adams led the Aggies with nine boards.
UTSA — Aysia Proctor scored 19 points and pulled down five rebounds in a little more than 22 minutes off the bench. She scored on drives, from the mid range and at the three-point line, where she knocked down two of three. Kyra White was all over the place on the box score, including scoring (13 points), rebounding (eight), assists (three) and steals (three). Idara Udo snared a team-high 11 rebounds, blocked two shots and scored two points. Elyssa Coleman, who was held scoreless before fouling out at Arizona State, bounced back with a seven-point, seven-rebound and four-block showing against New Mexico State.