The Roadrunners captured their first win of the season by defeating the Florida International  Panthers, 61-54 on Friday, Nov. 18 at the Convocation Center.

“I’ve been really concerned because we did get beat by TCU and we opened up against Missouri. We do have a lot of new kids with a tough schedule,” Head Coach Rae Rippetoe-Blair said. “We needed that win bad. One win can give you so much confidence.”  

This wasn’t just another win for the Roadrunners. This victory gave Rippetoe-Blair, the longest tenured coach at UTSA, her 300th career win as a head basketball coach.  Rippetoe-Blair is just seven wins away from her 200th win at UTSA.

Before the Runner and Panthers tipped off, the Convocation Center held a moment of silence for the terrible plane accident that killed the Oklahoma State University’s women’s Head Basketball Coach Kurt Budke and Assistant Coach Miranda Serna.

“It’s such a tragedy. I feel so sorry for families over there. I know both coaches very well,” Rippetoe-Blair, an Oklahoma native, said. “You feel for them and you feel for their team and all the things they are going through. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

The Roadrunners entered the game with the Panthers hungry for a win, coming off a loss on the road at TCU.  Freshman guard Kamra King and freshman forward Mannasha Bell led the Roadrunners on a 6-0 run in the opening minutes of the game. However, the Panthers maintained their competive composure and came back with a six-point run of their own to tie up the game. After that tie, the competition picked up with both sides unwilling to give up, as the lead was exchanged six times in the first half.

The Roadrunners led the FIU Panthers, 32-24, at the end of the first half. UTSA’s offense flowed better than it did the home opener, as the focus of their offense went to their post players. Junior center Whitney Wright led the team in scoring with nine points by shooting 60 percent from the floor. The Roadrunners also shot 75 percent from the free throw line, and scored 18 points in the paint.

The second half of the game, UTSA kept their intensity but the Panthers battled back to eventually take the lead with seven minutes left to play. FIU senior guard Fanni Hutlassa, had an outstanding second half and buoyed the Panthers offense to their second half lead.

The Roadrunners shooting percentage also dipped to a low 31 percent. The growing pains were evident as the offensive turnovers still plagued the Roadrunners on several possessions.  

Wright ran into foul trouble and didn’t play most of the second half. However, Bell stepped up for the Runners in the second half by scoring 14 of her 16 points in the second half. Her points didn’t come easily.  Bell scored half of her total points from the free throw line as a result of multiple fearless drives into the lane.

The second half saw very physical basketball. Three FIU Panthers eventually fouled out of the game, including the game’s leading scorer Hutlassa. The Roadrunners kept their composure, and eventually captured their first win of the season.

Although the Roadrunners are still growing as a team, this game was an example of how well these athletes can play with each other. “This team has a lot more chemistry than the last two teams that I’ve been on,” Wright said. “So, I’m excited for the good things that are going to come,”

Wright, an Oklahoma native, also reflected on how much of an impact Coach Rippetoe-Blair had on her basketball career.

“It’s an honor to play for Coach Blair,” Wright said. “I heard so many good things about her before coming to UTSA so it’s just an honor to play for her.”

Bell agreed that Coach Rippetoe-Blair has had a very positive impact on her first season at the division one basketball level.

“She’s a great coach, and an amazing person. I love playing for her,” Bell said.

In only her first division one basketball season, Bell is having a strong impact on the team.

Related Stories

More from Paisano1

Editorial Board

At the University of Missouri, real change happened — but only when loss of university revenue was threatened. Missouri student…

More In Sports

Julia Maenius Staff Writer

The UTSA women’s golf team traveled to Fort Myers, Florida, to compete in the Conference USA (C-USA) Championship from March…