Houston races to a 22-point lead and then holds off UTSA, 66-64

The Houston Cougars edged past the UTSA Roadrunners and freshman guard Aysia Proctor, who scored seven of her team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter. – Photo by Tony Morano, courtesy of UTSA athletics

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Other than playing an error-filled first half, the UTSA Roadrunners did just about everything that a team needed to do to win a basketball game. They showed hustle. They grappled on the floor with the Houston Cougars for loose balls.

They decisively won the battle under the back boards against a Power 5 opponent.

UTSA center Elyssa Coleman (left) battles Houston’s Djessira Diawara for possession. Coleman snared eight rebounds as the Roadrunners won the battle of the boards, 47-33. – Photo by Tony Morano, courtesy of UTSA athletics

On the offensive end, the Roadrunners knocked down clutch shots in the third and fourth quarters. In the end, though, it wasn’t quite enough as the Cougars built a 22-point lead in the first half and then somehow escaped with a 66-64 road victory at the Convocation Center.

“The obvious elephant in the room is that we got off to a tough start and just (made) too many turnovers … ,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said. “We talked about it at halftime. You know, our defense was fairly solid. I think we gave them some timely offensive rebounds and a couple of threes. But … they had 19 points in the half off turnovers.”

More specifically, Houston forced 16 first-half turnovers and outscored UTSA by a resounding 19-0 margin off the errors over the first two quarters. As a result, the Cougars juiced the lead to as many as 22 points three times. At intermission, it was a 20-point game.

Not to worry. In the second half, a Roadrunners team that has erased deficits of 11 and 15 points to win this year made a spirited run to get back in the game. At the end, they were looking at an eight-point deficit with 3:44 remaining — and still nearly pulled it out.

First, freshman guard Aysia Proctor and junior forward Elyssa Coleman made baskets to get the fans up on their feet. Kyra White’s elbow jumper with 50 seconds left turned the volume another notch higher.

UTSA guard Kyra White (right) faced intense defensive pressure and still produced 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists. – Photo by Tony Morano, courtesy of UTSA athletics

Then, finally, Sidney Love splashed a three with 18 seconds left for one of the best moments in memory in the Convocation Center, with people standing, cheering and throwing their arms in the air. UTSA was down by just two. The program’s first victory over a P5 opponent in 13 years seemed within reach.

“I just felt like we were in the game,” said Proctor, who led the Roadrunners with 19 points on nine of 11 shooting from the field. “I just felt like we could win it. Our team was hyped. We were locked in.”

For the Roadrunners, it wasn’t meant to be.

On Houston’s next possession, three UTSA players were trapping and had a Cougars player cornered on the boundary and the halfcourt stripe. Cougars coach Ronald Hughey called time out, just in time, because it appeared that the Coogs’ ball handler was about to be whistled for traveling.

Ultimately, Houston inbounded again with seven seconds left, made a few passes and then ran out the clock. UTSA could have fouled at least the last Cougars player with the ball but didn’t, for some reason.

Sidney Love (right, with the ball) takes it to the rim with the left hand. She finished with 13 points. – Photo by Tony Morano, courtesy UTSA athletics

In trying to recall the moments that stood out for her at the end, Aston pinpointed a missed shot from close range by the Roadrunners and then a play on the other end when her team failed to box out, allowing the Cougars to snare an offensive rebound that led to a couple of Laila Blair free throws.

“We have players that understand that block outs are important,” Aston said. “I don’t have to go back and say you should have blocked out. But I do think that not fouling there at the very end…like, we didn’t have a grasp that we had to foul. We need to be better at that, for sure.”

Once-beaten Houston, ranked 69th in the nation in the NET computer rankings, is due a large amount of credit for hanging on when the game seemed to be slipping away. Particularly, the two free throws by Blair were momentous for Houston’s cause. Both Blair and N’Yah Boyd finished with 14 points apiece.

UTSA players also deserve credit for showing fortitude after such a poor first-half. Proctor’s nine for 11 shooting was one individual highlight. Another was the overall hustle and grit of White, who finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Love was another player in double figures with 13 points.

The Roadrunners entered the game 138th in the nation in the NET. Despite the loss, they might have helped their cause in the rankings because they held the Cougars to 20 points below their average. They also dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Coogs, 47-33.


A school spokesman said that if UTSA had won the game, it would have been the largest comeback in program history. On another historical note, UTSA hasn’t won a game against a Power 5 team since 2010 in a victory over Kansas State. The Roadrunners have lost 22 in a row in that span against teams from the five major revenue-producing conferences. The Cougars became a P5 program just this season when they started play in the Big 12.

First half

Pressing at every opportunity and forcing 16 turnovers, the Houston Cougars dominated the first half. They led by 10 points at the quarter and by 20 at intermission.

N’Yah Boyd scored all of her 11 first-half points in the second quarter as the Cougars opened a wide lead on the Roadrunners.

When UTSA pulled to within 11 at one juncture in the period, the Cougars sprinted away on a 12-1 run to open the first of three 22-point leads. Boyd capped the run with a driving layup and a three-point bucket.


Houston 8-1
UTSA 5-4

Coming up

UTSA at Oregon, Sunday, 2 p.m.

JB’s video replay

Kyra White passes to Sidney Love, who hits a three with 12 seconds left to pull UTSA within two. Houston hung on to win 66-64 after leading by as many as 22 points in the first half.

After taking a cross-court pass from Sidney Love, freshman Aysia Proctor dribbles into the paint and sinks a 12 footer.

Kyra White finds open space and hits a three-pointer during first-half action against Houston.

Freshman Idara Udo takes it to the basket and scores for UTSA late in the second quarter.

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