Basketball returned Friday, Nov. 11, as the UTSA Women’s basketball team took on a non-conference opponent in the Big XII’s Missouri Tigers, at the Convocation Center. The Tigers were too much to handle as they blew out the Roadrunners 70-50 in the home opener.

For six Roadrunners, it was their first taste of college basketball but for junior guard Judy Jones it was a return to the court after a year away. “Jones’ comeback is going to be good for us but it’s going to take a while, since she’s been out a whole year,” Head Coach Rae Rippetoe-Blair said. “We’re not clicking. I’ve got to find that right vibe out there.”

The Roadrunners came out excited and ready to compete with the Tigers, and for the first half, the Runners matched the visitor’s intensity.

The Roadrunners and the Tigers exchanged the lead four times and tied five times in the first half. Jones was ready to make up for lost time and led the Runners in scoring for the first half with six points. Junior center Whitney Wright showed her toughness, battling her way towards four points and four boards and a statement block by Mizzou’s Center Cbristine Flores. However, the Tigers kept up with the Runners point for point and came up with a nine-point run to end the first half with the Tigers leading 29-20.

The start of the second half began badly for the home team, as Mizzou’s junior guard Liene Priede scored two quick three pointers to extend the Tiger’s lead. The Roadrunners tried to battle back, but they ran into a scoring drought not able to keep up with an efficient offense by the Mizzou Tigers.

San Antonio native Flores exploded for 17 points and nine rebounds in the second half. A powerful performance by Flores and the Tigers’ 50 percent shooting percentage in the second half took the life out of the Roadrunners. The Roadrunners had a very difficult time producing in the second half, shooting only 24 percent from the floor.  

The Mizzou Tigers are the first of many tough out-of-conference opponents for the Roadrunners, who don’t play any Southland Conference teams until Jan. 7.  However, Rippetoe-Blair believes that this gauntlet of tough teams will help prepare her team to accomplish its overall goal.

“Our goal is to win the conference and go to the NCAA tournament. That’s the big picture goal, but right now we have to take it one game at a time,” Rippetoe-Blair said. “With a tough schedule like that, you’ve got to keep their heads up and working hard.”

Freshman starting guard Kamra King and freshman forward Mannasha Bell, also see the advantage from playing the very tough out of conference opponents that their head coach has scheduled.

“I think it’s going to prepare us a lot, we are going to be ready to face a tough challenge,” King said.

Bell added that the non-conference schedule would toughen the team up.

“We’ll be really physical and tough to beat when we play in conference,” Bell said.

The two young freshmen are quickly learning valuable lessons from these games, and hope to help the Roadrunners down the road.

“We are learning to face adversity,” King said. “As freshmen, we are just learning what to do and what not to do everyday.”

Rippetoe-Blair echoed the thoughts of Bell.  

“I think the strength of this team is our toughness,” Rippetoe-Blair said. “I think we are going to get after people, you saw a little bit of it tonight and we made some steals. I think we will come together as a team.”

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