By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay
Sophomore guard Sidney Love scored a career-high 26 points Saturday afternoon, lifting the UTSA Roadrunners to a 70-66 victory over the UT Arlington Lady Mavs.
Playing in Arlington at the College Park Center, the Roadrunners withstood a late challenge from the winless Mavs to win their third straight game and their second straight on the road.
Love, a multi-skilled talent from San Antonio area Steele High School, hit six of 10 shots from the field and one of two from three-point distance. She enjoyed great success in taking the ball to the basket and drawing fouls, converting 13 of 15 from the free-throw line.
Sophomore Maya Linton, who played in high school in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at Duncanville, posted a double double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Linton is starting at power forward, with UTSA star Jordyn Jenkins unavailable as she rehabilitates a knee injury. Jenkins, the Player of the Year in Conference USA last season, hasn’t played this season.
In the big picture, the Roadrunners might be starting to turn the corner as a program. Last year, they finished with a 13-19 record. But they enjoyed a strong showing at the end of the season, winning nine of their last 13 games, including two at the C-USA tournament. This year, as they enter play in the American Athletic Conference, they’ve won three of their first four.
All told, their fast start this season means that they have posted a 12-5 record in their last 17, starting that run with a 66-63 win at Louisiana Tech last Jan. 28. They’ll get another test Monday when they play on the road in the Big 12 Conference at Texas Tech.
UT Arlington 0-4
UTSA at Texas Tech, Monday, 6 p.m.
Setting the stage
Entering play against the Mavs, UTSA had enjoyed moderate success in the new season. In the season opener, the Roadrunners took a 70-55 loss at Arizona State of the Pac 12 Conference. Returning home, they survived a close encounter with the New Mexico State Aggies, winning 58-55 behind 19 points from freshman Aysia Proctor. On Wednesday night, they traveled to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, fell behind by as many as 15 points in the third quarter and then rallied for a 66-59 victory in overtime.
Love carried the Roadrunners in the third quarter, when they outscored the Mavs 18-13 and opened up a 50-45 lead. Taking advantage of her size, quickness and ball-handling skills, she scored 12 in the period. In doing so, the former San Antonio area standout motored inside for layups and hit one three from the corner.
Freshman forward Idara Udo also had a good stretch in the third, scoring five points. Udo, from Plano, finished with nine points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Facing a team with a wide array of offensive options, the Roadrunners allowed a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter to evaporate, with the Lady Mavs storming from behind to tie the game, 32-32, at halftime.
In the second period, the Mavs unleashed a diverse attack that often put the Roadrunners on their heels. Drives into the paint. Reverse layups. Soft jumpers from the mid range and three-point rainbows. UTA had it all going on as the home team won the quarter, 22-15.
UTSA enjoyed equivalent success in the first quarter. While holding UTA to 26 percent shooting, UTSA kept applying pressure and moved out to a 17-10 lead after the first 10 minutes. Kyra White and Maya Linton contributed four points apiece for the Roadrunners in the period.
In the first half for the Roadrunners, Linton had one of her better performances of the season, tossing in 12 points and hustling for five rebounds. In winning the rebounding battle, Elyssa Coleman had six boards, while Linton and Udo banged inside for five apiece. UTSA hit 14 of 38 from the field for 36 percent.
The Lady Mavs guard Nya Threatt led the way with eight points on three of five shooting. Fleet guard Gia Adams scored six and Taliyah Clark and Avery Brittingham five apiece. UTA hit 13 of 33 from the field for 39 percent. Brittingham pulled down eight rebounds, but the Mavs were out-boarded, 26-18. UTA allowed UTSA to grab 10 boards off the offensive glass.
UTSA coach Karen Aston played 11 players. Nine of them scored and everyone contributed. Notably:
—Kyra White, the star of UTSA’s victory at A&M-Corpus Christi, played heavy minutes for the second straight game. White played 43 minutes at Corpus Christi on Wednesday night and another 35 on Saturday. Against the Mavs, she took only six shots and scored five points. But she had six rebounds and a team-leading six assists.
—Madison Cockrell, from Dallas Bishop Lynch in the DFW area, contributed three points and an assist in only eight minutes. Aysia Proctor, a freshman from San Antonio-area Clemens High, played only four minutes but she hit her only field goal attempt.
Guards Nya Threatt and Taliyah Clark and forward Avery Brittingham each scored 13 points for the Mavs. Threatt and Brittingham combined to hit four of nine from the three-point line, but the rest of the team wasn’t nearly as accurate, shooting one for 12.
UTA is coached by former Copperas Cove High School prep star Shereka Wright. After high school, she starred at Purdue, averaging 19.0, 18.9 and 20.1 points in her last three seasons with the Big Ten’s Boilermakers. Wright retired from the WNBA in 2006 after suffering a torn Achilles. At UT-Arlington, Wright is 47-36 as coach of the Mavs in a little more than three seasons.
UTA lost 76-61 on the road at South Florida of the American conference to open the season. Coming home, UTA was bounced 74-57 at the hands of the Lamar Cardinals. In Game 3, the Lady Mavs traveled to Austin on Tuesday and took a beating. The Longhorns beat the Lady Mavs 110-64.