By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
The UTSA Roadrunners are most definitely on the upswing in women’s basketball, but the Texas State Bobcats remain firmly in control in the I-35 rivalry.
Paced by guard Timia Jefferson, Texas State pulled away in the last four minutes Thursday night to down error-prone UTSA, 65-57, in overtime.
The Bobcats broke from a tie and outscored the Roadrunners 11-3 down the stretch to secure the victory in front of an announced 500 fans at the Convocation Center.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Texas State coach Zenarae Antoine said outside the team bus. “This particular game’s special, for us, because we really needed to find our way through adversity in a close game. Our last two games were really close, right. Back and forth and then the opponent pulled away. That’s both at home against Sam Houston and on the road at (Texas A&M) Corpus (Christi).”
Texas State has won six straight against UTSA in the series. UTSA hasn’t prevailed in the game against its regional rival since 2016.
In the latest dust-up on hardwood between schools separated by about 50 miles, a crowd announced at 500 filled most of both lower-level grandstands.
“We were excited to be home,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said. “I’m just disappointed we didn’t perform at a more urgent level. Like, we looked like we were too cool for how competitive the game was. I was disappointed for that, because we’re home, and you want to show out for your home fans. But, sometimes you have to get slapped around a little bit to change some things you do.
“Some of it is, we’ve got some young players who haven’t been in this situation, and the only way for them to learn is to play.”
Jefferson paced Texas State with 15 points, including a team-high five in the OT. Two former San Antonio-area high school players also played key roles. Forwards Tiffany Tullis (from Cornerstone) had 12 points and nine rebounds and Jaylin Foster (from Steele) notched a double double, producing 10 points and 11 boards.
Asked about what stood out for her in the overtime, Tullis said it was “locking down on the defense” and rebounding. “Not letting them get second opportunities,” she said.
UTSA entered the Texas State game on the heels of a 3-1 road swing through Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UT Arlington, Texas Tech and Sam Houston State, with the only loss a close one (by five points) in Lubbock at Tech.
To beat the Roadrunners, a good team and also a long-time foe of the Bobcats, was meaningful to Tullis.
“This is my first time hearing about the rivalry, so it’s pretty awesome to win against a team they had been going against for years,” Tullis said.
The Roadrunners came from 15 down to win in Corpus Christi and from 11 behind to beat Sam Houston. They fell behind by nine in the first half against the Bobcats but couldn’t produce their magic this time.
UTSA may have been its own worst enemy at the end, shooting two for eight from the field and committing three turnovers in the overtime.
After Foster scored on a driving layup for the Bobcats, Sidney Love answered with one of her own to bring the Roadrunners to within 61-57 with 51 seconds remaining.
At that point, the UTSA offense went cold and Texas State took advantage. Jefferson hit three of her team’s free throws at the end to help the visitors close the deal.
For the Roadrunners, center Elyssa Coleman had 11 points and nine rebounds. Love scored 11 and passed for three assists. Siena Guttadauro also scored 11 off the bench. Guttadauro knocked down three 3-point baskets for the Roadrunners.
Texas State 4-2
Playing strong defense, the Texas State Bobcats forced six UTSA turnovers in the first quarter and raced to a seven-point advantage and then held on in the second period, to hold a 28-25 lead at the intermission.
At least six players from high schools in the San Antonio area — two from Texas State and four from UTSA — played in the game at the UTSA Convocation Center. Texas State started Tiffany Tullis from Cornerstone and Jaylin Foster from Steele on the front line. UTSA started Kyra White from Judson, Sidney Love from Steele and Aysia Proctor from Clemens in the backcourt. UTSA also came off the bench with guard Alexis Parker from Brandeis.