By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
Bouncing back from a tough loss at Oregon, the UTSA Roadrunners’ women played suffocating defense for three quarters and scored a road game season-high for points in a 75-64 victory Tuesday afternoon over the Seattle Redhawks.
The Redhawks, down by 23 after three quarters, rallied to within nine with 1:55 remaining but came up short against the Roadrunners, who improved to 6-5 on the season and to 4-3 on the road. Seattle, playing out of the Western Athletic Conference, fell to 1-9.
UTSA’s post play proved to be too much for the home team to handle. Starting center Elyssa Coleman produced 18 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Freshman Idara Udo came off the bench to contribute 15 points and nine boards. Udo scored 12 in the second quarter when UTSA broke it open.
Through three quarters, UTSA’s defense kept Seattle from gaining any momentum, holding the Redhawks to 42 points on 32 percent shooting.
“Obviously, the last four or five minutes were pretty ugly, but that’s probably just attention span and just trying to get the game closed off and finishing it,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said on the team’s radio broadcast. “I thought we had some ticky-tack, little fouls toward the end of it, but I thought we kept our composure. Pretty good performance, overall.”
The team’s overall record at this stage of the schedule is significant for a number of reasons.
First of all, UTSA has a winning record without its best player having stepped foot on the court. Rehabilitating a knee injury, forward Jordyn Jenkins hasn’t played at all, and the Roadrunners still had a successful pre-Christmas run.
Second, the Roadrunners have done it with freshmen and sophomores contributing in a major way. Finally, from a historical standpoint, the UTSA women haven’t been above .500 at Christmas in a decade.
“We talked about this before the game,” Aston said, “that it’s been 10 years since UTSA has gone home for the Christmas break with a winning record. That’s a big deal.
“I mean, every time we step on the floor, we’re looking to do things that haven’t been done in awhile, and as we talk about all the time, move the needle for the program.
“Again, it’s been 2013-14 since we had a winning (record) prior to conference play, so that’s a big step for our team.”
Guard Julianna Walker was the hot hand for Seattle. She hit four 3-pointers and scored 17. Mya Moore scored 14 and Makayla Moore had 12.
After 10 seasons in Conference USA, the UTSA women will open play in the American Athletic Conference on Dec. 29 at Temple University, in Philadelphia.
They’ll be at East Carolina in Greenville, N.C., on Jan. 2 and then will be at home on Jan. 6 against Wichita State …
UTSA is trying to break a string of eight-straight seasons with sub-.500 records. UTSA hasn’t had a winning record since 2015 when they were 16-15 …
Although Power 5 opponents are 4-0 against UTSA this season, they haven’t blown out the Roadrunners in any of those games.
Arizona State of the Pac 12 downed UTSA 70-55 in Tempe on opening night. After that, the Roadrunners have been more than respectable in the next three meetings with teams from elite conferences.
In Lubbock, UTSA lost to Texas Tech of the Big 12 by five.
In a home game against Houston last week, UTSA’s fourth-quarter rally came up short in a 66-64 setback to another team from the Big 12.
And, finally, in Eugene, Ore., on Sunday afternoon, the Roadrunners were within five points with four minutes left before the Pac 12’s Oregon Ducks went on an 8-0 run to win, 61-48.
Udo scored 12 of her 13 first-half points in a dominant second quarter for the Roadrunners, who played a more aggressive, physical style and opened a 39-28 halftime lead.
Udo, a freshman from Plano, hit four of five shots from the field and four of five also at the line in the quarter for perhaps her most explosive sequence of the season.
In less than three minutes through the 5:55 mark, Udo’s aggressive posture had the Redhawks in retreat. She hit a turnaround jumper, drew a foul and tossed in two free throws, scored on a put back and added a turnaround 12-footer for good measure.
As a result, the Roadrunners kept applying pressure and kicked the lead up to 16 points at one point. Sidney Love’s spinning layup made it 37-21 with 2:17 remaining.
Mya Moore kept the Redhawks in the game early, scoring eight of her nine first-half points in the opening period. Seattle trailed 16-15 as Moore grabbed the ball under the bucket following UTSA turnover and banked it in at the buzzer.