By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
Freshman Idara Udo rebounded a miss and hit a short follow-up for the game winner at the buzzer Sunday afternoon, lifting the UTSA Roadrunners to an 81-80, double-overtime victory over the Charlotte 49ers.
With the victory, the Roadrunners (9-7, 3-2) made a statement in the American Athletic Conference. In winning their third straight, they knocked off the 49ers (11-6, 4-1) who entered the contest leading the AAC standings.
“I couldn’t be more proud of a group of girls,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said. “We faced a lot of adversity throughout the game … I thought we were resilient. A lot of players made plays.”
The final minute of the game became an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved at the UTSA Convocation Center.
Charlotte’s Keanna Rembert missed the second of two free throws with 48 seconds left to leave the score tied, 77-all, prompting UTSA to call a timeout.
Afterward, former Judson High School standout Kyra White drove and passed off to the side, where Hailey Atwood made the catch and calmly drained a mid-range jumper for a two-point lead.
Following a 30-second timeout by Charlotte, the 49ers came up with their own big play, with Dazia Lawrence feeding Jacee Busick, who knocked down a three. The shot with 13 seconds left lifted the 49ers into an 80-79 lead.
Pushing the ball up the court, UTSA had White coming at the Charlotte defense again. She fired a jumper and missed. In a battle under the boards, Udo snared the rebound and hit the winner from point-blank range.
“I was just thinking of giving my team an advantage,” Udo said. “I had two opportunities earlier in the regular period and the first overtime to capitalize, and I didn’t. So I knew that whenever I had a chance the third time, I was going to capitalize. Third time’s the charm.”
When the horn sounded, UTSA players circled Udo and bounced up and down, with the freshman shouting in the exhilaration of the moment.
Asked about the celebration, White’s comments were measured and were delivered with some humility. She brought up the first two games that UTSA played on its AAC schedule, when the Roadrunners lost at Temple and East Carolina.
“It felt good,” White said of the celebration. “I think our first two conference games, honestly, I’m just going to come out and say that we weren’t prepared for the physicality or what the American conference looked like.
“I think now that we’ve got our feet back under us, just keep ’em rolling, to help us going into the next game against a very good team as well.”
Next up for UTSA is a Tuesday night home game against the South Florida Bulls, the preseason favorite in the conference.
Udo led the Roadrunners in scoring with a career-high 26 points, and she also pulled down nine rebounds, including six on the offensive end. Udo, from Plano, hit nine of 13 shots from the field.
Another freshman, guard Aysia Proctor from San Antonio-area Clemens High School, also produced a strong effort. Proctor had 17 points, 13 rebounds and three steals. She hit five of six from the 3-point arc. Elyssa Coleman, who fouled out, finished with 12.
White nearly pulled off a triple double with nine points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. White played a team-high 44 minutes.
For Charlotte, center Tracey Hueston enjoyed a big day of her own. Hueston scored a game-high 27 points. The 6-foot-2 transfer from the University of Pittsburgh stepped outside to make four of four from beyond the 3-point arc.
Lawrence and Busick had 12 points each, and Imani Smith had 11. Lawrence entered the game with some notoriety as the AAC’s Player of the Week last week.
She had 24 points in a victory at Rice on Thursday. But UTSA did a good job on her, bringing double-team help even when she was on the perimeter.
Faced with the pressure, she hit only three of 17 from the field. Lawrence’s biggest moment came at the end of the first overtime when she made a 15-footer at the buzzer to tie the game at 68.
Charlotte 11-6, 4-1
UTSA 9-7, 3-2
South Florida at UTSA, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
Sparked by a Madison Cockrell-led defense, the Roadrunners outscored the 49ers by seven in the second quarter and took a 29-25 lead at intermission.
Cockrell fueled a 6-0 UTSA run in the opening minute and a half of the second quarter. After Coleman hit a jumper to open the period, Cockrell jumped in front of Olivia Porter and drew a charge.
On the other end, Udo sank a 12-foot jumper. Subsequently, Cockrell forced another turnover, which led to another bucket by Udo and a 13-12 lead for the Roadrunners, their first since early in the first quarter.
Udo led UTSA in scoring at the half with 11 points. She hit four for four from the field. Coleman also contributed with eight points on four of seven shooting.
Lawrence and Hueston led Charlotte with six points apiece. Lawrence was limited to one for seven shooting. UTSA at times ran a double team at Lawrence, even on the perimeter.