By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
After a month of women’s basketball games in the American Athletic Conference, Coach Karen Aston’s UTSA Roadrunners have started to build sort of a dual identity.
On the road, they play with maddening inconsistency, sometimes on both ends of the floor. At times, their play results in blowout losses.
At home in the Convocation Center, they seem to take on a different personality altogether — hungry, focused, confident — even against the best teams in the AAC.
The Roadrunners showed off their winning form in front of the home fans again on Wednesday night, knocking off the North Texas Mean Green 75-67 in overtime.
With the victory, they successfully defended home court in conference play, running their record to 4-0 at the Convocation Center in AAC games.
Moreover, two of those victories have come against teams that were in first place in conference when they arrived in San Antonio — Charlotte, and now North Texas.
“Obviously, our team likes playing at home,” Aston said. “We like the confines of the Convocation Center, and we like playing in front of our fans.
“Just super proud of our defensive effort tonight, just our resilience.
“It was one of those games where nothing was perfect and everything didn’t go our way all the time, but I loved our attitude — particularly in overtime. It was just a very focused group tonight. Very proud of ’em.”
Two freshman helped UTSA win the game in the five-minute extra period. Aysia Proctor scored seven points and Idara Udo had five.
The Roadrunners surged late in the overtime behind Proctor, Udo and others.
Undeterred, the Mean Green made a game of it, cutting down a nine point lead to four when Jaauckland Moore drained a long three with 25 seconds left.
On UTSA’s next possession, the Roadrunners stayed solid against the Mean Green’s pressure and got the ball to Proctor, who hit two free throws at 0:11 to put it out of reach.
UTSA’s defense was the story.
The Mean Green entered the game averaging 75 points per outing, with their two post starters — DesiRay Kernal and Tommisha Lampkin — averaging 32 points between them.
In the end, the two weren’t much of a factor, combining for only 12 points and 3 of 23 shooting from the field. Kernal, a Player of the Year candidate, was 0 for 9 and scored only three points.
Asked how it happened, Aston said, “Honestly, just some determination (by) our entire team. I thought we had special moments where we helped each other. But just the determination of our post players to beat them to spots and make their shots tough.
“They’re really, really good. I think we knew that and respected that and we played like we respected it.”
On Jan. 14, Udo played a major role in UTSA’s 81-80 double-overtime victory against Charlotte. Not only did she score a career-high 26 points, but she also hit the game winning shot with 2.3 seconds remaining.
Udo’s presence again was a factor in an overtime game against a contender, as she rebounded her own miss, followed it with a layup and drew a foul with 3:36 remaining against North Texas.
After a UTSA home crowd announced at 942 stopped screaming, she knocked down the free throw to give the Roadrunners a two-point lead.
“Just doing what I can to get stops, get rebounds, putbacks,” Udo said. “Whatever I can.”
Clearly in the running for an all-freshman team designation in the AAC, Udo led the Roadrunners in scoring with 14 points on five of nine shooting. She also had a team-leading 12 rebounds, with six of them on the offensive end. From the backcourt, Sidney Love scored 13 and Proctor had 11, while 6-foot-3 center Elyssa Coleman was a steady force throughout, notching nine points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
Coleman, UTSA’s all-time leader in blocks with 129, seemed to save her rejections for the most opportune times for the Roadrunners. She had one near the end of the second quarter, one at the end of the third and another right at the start of the overtime period.
“Since I’m the last line of defense, in my head, it’s a dire need to get a stop,” Coleman said, in discussing what it’s like to swat away a shot. “I’m pretty lanky, and I time things pretty well. I’ve been getting away from that these past two games, but I think I’m back.”
North Texas 17-4, 7-2
UTSA 11-9, 5-4
Tulane at UTSA, Sunday, 2 p.m.
UTSA coach Karen Aston went deep into her bench in the second quarter and it paid off with solid performances from Alexis Parker, Kyleigh McGuire, Cheyenne Rowe and others. When it was over, the Roadrunners were leading at halftime, 35-28.
Parker came alive with five points in the period, including a drive that turned into a three-point play with about a minute remaining. Rowe and McGuire played well on the defensive end and Rowe, at one point drove it into the teeth of the Mean Green defense and scored.
In the last five minutes of the half, the Roadrunners dominated the top team in the conference, running off on a 15-4 run to the buzzer. UTSA his six of seven shots from the field in the sequence.
UTSA's Aysia Proctor nails a three from the corner in overtime. Proctor had seven points in the extra period as the Roadrunners upended the North Texas Mean Green, 75-67. Please see a game story, photos and video on the website. https://t.co/hyCDEtJChY, #AmericanHoops. pic.twitter.com/BNqmeV9X6s
— Jerry Briggs (@JerryBriggs) February 1, 2024
Aysia Proctor, a freshman from San Antonio-area Clemens, drills a three that puts UTSA ahead by nine points with 1:24 left in overtime. Proctor had seven points in the extra period. – Video by Jerry Briggs