‘Runners off to fast start to season

Although it’s early in the basketball season, the women’s team doesn’t look to be riding any roller coasters soon.  UTSA started the season 2 – 0. On Nov. 12, the  Roadrunners beat the Concordia Tornados 88 – 29, and defeated the Texas Pan-American Broncs on Friday, Nov. 9 68-34. 

“We knew they were going to zone, and I thought we handled it well. Rebounding. I wasn’t real pleased. I thought we could’ve out rebounded them a lot more,” Head Coach Rae Rippetoe-Blair said.

If Rippetoe-Blair was upset with the team’s rebounding, her disappointment wasn’t reflected in the statistics. The ‘Runners out rebounded the Tornados 23 – 19 in the first half and 49 – 32 overall. Senior forward Jalisa Montgomery and freshman forward Niaga Mitchell-Cole led the team in the first half with 4 rebounds apiece.  Moreover, Montgomery, senior center Whitney Wright, junior guard Miki Turner, senior guard Jermini Malone, and sophomore guard Ashley Spaletta all recorded two steals apiece.

“This year, everybody’s healthy. We came out with revenge,” said Turner.

The Roadrunners forced 21 first half turnovers, and they held the Tornados to a staggeringly low 20.8 percent from field on five for 24 shooting. While UTSA performed well on the defensive end, the team also performed just as well on the offensive end.

UTSA hit 16 of 38 shots from the field for a 42.1 shooting percentage, and the team shot exceedingly well from the free throw line hitting nine out of 11 shots for an 81.8 percent. As the first half ended, the ‘Runners were ahead 46 to 13.

At the start of the second half, Spaletta led the team in scoring with 8 points shooting 50 percent from the field and the three-point stripe (FG 3 – 6 and 3FG 2 – 4).

If the first half proved to be a disappointment for the Tornados, the second half would prove to be an even bigger let down. UTSA forced an additional 14 turnovers and kept the Tornados from shooting above 26 percent.

Thirteen of UTSA’s 14 players scored in the game. Senior forward Lyndi Thorman, Spaletta, freshman forward Elonu Akunna, and sophomore guard Kamra King all scored in double figures.

Three days earlier, the Roadrunners won their home opener against UT Pan-Am 68 – 34. The victory marked the 20th home opening victory for UTSA and gave them an overall record of 20-12 for season home openers.

“It feels good to start the regular season off with a win,” said senior guard Simone Young.

King led the team in scoring with 10 points. Turner and Mitchell-Cole also chipped in with eight points apiece. The victory was a balanced attack for the ‘Runners. Twelve of 14 players scored.

“It feels really good [to win]; both team-wise and individually, coach Blair stresses making adjustments and being confident,” said Mitchell-Cole.

UTSA made the necessary rebounding adjustments. The Roadrunners out rebounded the Broncs 52 – 42, and the Roadrunners scored 15 points off of offensive rebounds. Wright and Akunna recorded eight rebounds apiece. The dominant rebounding allowed the Roadrunners to score 34 points in the paint.

UTSA has consistently played well with the exception of shooting poorly from the free-throw line. Free throw shooting did rise after the victory against the Tornados, but it’s still a concern from some on the team.

“We need to work on free throws. Other than that, we adjusted well in the game, but we’re going to work on free throws,” said Young.

UTSA’s next home game will be against Texas A & M – Corpus Christi on Nov. 16 at the Convocation Center at 7 p.m.

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