By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
The first-place Temple Owls held UTSA without a field goal for the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter Thursday night, riding a strong defensive effort to a 56-48 victory over the Roadrunners at the Convocation Center. The win was the fourth in a row for the Temple women. It also gave the Owls a 2-0 sweep over the Roadrunners in the season series.
Moreover, it was the first time in five games this season that the Roadrunners played a team in first place in the American Athletic Conference standings and lost. Over the past five weeks, UTSA had claimed victories in such situations over Charlotte, North Texas and UAB, all at home, and North Texas again on the road last Sunday in Denton.
Leading by seven after the first quarter, the Roadrunners couldn’t capitalize on the fast start. The Owls kept hitting the offensive boards and finding their way to the free-throw line. On the night, Temple won the rebounding battle, 48-42, including a 22-10 edge on the offensive glass. The Owls also made a living at the line, knocking down 18 of 28 to UTSA’s 9 of 15.
“We got obliterated on the boards, and that’s really the story of the game,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said on the team’s radio broadcast.
Temple led by two at halftime and by three at the end of three periods. Oddly enough, the Owls missed 11 shots in a row at one point in the third and still led 43-40 going into the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, UTSA came unraveled. The Roadrunners misfired on their first six shots. Meanwhile, the Owls were doing just enough on the offensive end to start pulling away. After corralling a defensive rebound, they rushed it up the court. Guard Tiarra East passed to Denise Solis, who knocked down a jumper for a 51-41 lead with 3:31 remaining.
UTSA never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“We just couldn’t make a perimeter shot to loosen anything up at all,” Aston said. “And then they just got to the point where they didn’t want to shoot it because they were having maybe not a good night. I thought the 22 offensive boards were the difference in the game. We just couldn’t put our foot down on them, at all. Just one of those (nights). They outplayed us.”
Jordyn Jenkins came off the bench to produce 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Roadrunners. Center Elyssa Coleman had 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Idara Udo, another member of the Roadrunners’ frontcourt, produced nine points and five boards. UTSA’s starting backcourt, meanwhile, struggled to find a rhythm. Three backcourt starters combined to shoot five for 21 from the field.
Guard Tiarra East led the Owls with 18 points, including 10 in the second half when she made eight of 10 at the free-throw line. Five-foot-six Aleah Nelson added 11 points and Demi Washington had 10.
Starting forward Rayne Tucker and Solis, a reserve center, came up big on the boards for Temple. Both had eight rebounds apiece and combined for seven on the offensive glass. Both Solis and Ines Piper, a forward, came off the bench to grab four offensive boards apiece.
Perhaps most frustrating for UTSA, Temple shot just 26.9 percent from the field and still managed to win. And a big win it was for the Owls, who are in the pole position coming down the stretch for the AAC regular-season title . Temple leads the race at 10-4, followed by North Texas and Tulsa at 9-5.
UAB and Rice are next at 9-6, followed by Charlotte and South Florida, both 8-7. East Carolina, SMU and UTSA are next at 7-7.
Temple 16-10, 10-4
UTSA 13-12, 7-7
FAU at UTSA, Sunday, 1 p.m.
As the game evolved into a defensive struggle, the Owls shot only two of 19 from the field in the third period. But they made up for it with numerous trips to the free-throw line. The Owls hit 9 of 13 at the line to forge a 43-40 lead on the Roadrunners. Conversely, UTSA did not get to the line in the quarter.
Trailing by seven after the first period, the Owls retaliated with a 19-10 outburst to take a 30-28 lead at halftime. Guard Tiarra East and forward Ines Parker ignited a Temple rally in the second quarter.
East scored six points in a row for the Owls at one juncture. Roadrunners forward Jordyn Jenkins scored seven in the period to keep the Roadrunners in it. Jenkins hit three of five from the floor in the quarter, while the Roadrunners as a team managed only four of 15 afield.
The UT System on Wednesday approved a funding plan for UTSA’s proposed Volleyball and Basketball Training Facility. According to the UT System’s agenda, posted online, the facility will cost $35 million. Broken down, $15 million will come from Revenue Financing System Bond Proceeds, $10 million from designated funds and $10 million in grants from the City of San Antonio and Bexar County. The facility will be built adjacent to the Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence on the west end of campus. Construction is expected to start in 2025, with ‘substantial’ completion by August 2026 and ‘final’ completion in November of 2026.