A strong first half run helped UTSA avoid a second half collapse as the Roadrunners pulled out a 75-66 decision over the Sam Houston Bearkats.
The leadup to the game was something like that of a duel. Sam Houston sat atop the West division at 5-1 in Southland play. UTSA was half a game back at 4-1. The Roadrunners lone conference loss had come in the opener at Sam Houston. The stage was set for a match in which the team with the strongest will would pull out a victory.
The Roadrunners started out anything but strong as Sam Houston jumped out to an early 8-2 lead behind the hot shooting of sophomore forward Sequeena Thomas, who hit back to back three point shots.
The Roadrunners responded with sophomore forward Lindy Thorman knocking down a two point jumper and senior guard Alysse Davis taking advantage of a Sam Houston turnover and hitting a three to cut the deficit to one.
The Bearkats built the lead back up to three at 10-7 thanks to a layup by sophomore guard Chanice Smith. A jumper by senior guard Amber Gregg and a layup by senior forward Kelsey Ansley helped put the Roadrunners up 11-10.
The Roadrunners then proceeded to go on a six minute, 15-0 run before a three by junior guard Khamra Echols stopped the bleeding at 13 points, 26-13 with 6:54 left in the half.
It was not long before the Roadrunners opened the wound again with senior guard Kameisha Johnson converting on her only three point shot attempt of the day to put the Roadrunners back up by 16, 29-13.
The Johnson three helped set off another Roadrunner run that saw the lead balloon to 22 points, 35-13. Again Echols put a stop to the run by hitting a three that brought the Bearkats to within 19.
The Echols three helped Sam Houston to break out of a shooting cold spell. The Bearkats outscored the Roadrunners 11-6 over the final four minutes of the half but still found themselves down 41-30 at halftime.
The second half began with the Roadrunners adding on to their lead with the help of Davis who made a conventional three point play by making a layup and then hitting a free throw to put the Roadrunners up 46-32.
A Sam Houston three was countered by two Roadrunner layups as the lead grew to 50-35 in favor of the Roadrunners.
And then the Bearkats stated their case for being top team in the Southland Conference (SLC) West division as they went on a 17-5 run to cut the Roadrunners lead down to three at 55-52.
The Bearkats would get no closer than three as the Roadrunners spent the last few minutes of the game making shots. The Roadrunners benefited from the Bearkats’ desperation fouls by going seven-of-eight from the charity stripe in the final 90 seconds to roll on for their fifth consecutive win in the Southland Conference campaign.
The Roadrunners shot a season high 58 percent due in large part to 36 points in the paint.
“The last time we played them, we didn’t make shots,” Head Coach Rae Rippetoe-Blair said. “Today we made shots, I thought we were very focused.”
The Roadrunners were led on the stat sheet by Gregg with 15 followed by Davis, who started the game draining shots and finished with 13 and junior guard/forward Ashley Gardner with 10.
“I prefer to start out hot, I really like to make my first shot,” Davis said. “I like to spark the game with an easy shot.”
Rippetoe-Blair complemented the Bearkats following the game for the way they played.
“They are a team that doesnt lay down,” Rippetoe-Blair said. “They have too many shooters.”
With the win the Roadrunners have now taken over first place in the SLC West division at 5-1, but the conference calendar is still warming up.
“It is nice, but there is a lot of basketball left to play,” Rippetoe-Blair said. “We have two tough road games ahead.”
The Roadrunners will face UT-Arlington on the road Wednesday and Lamar on the road Saturday.
SLC West Division Standings
2. Sam Houston…………………5-2
3. Stephen F. Austin……………4-2
Standings as of 1/31/11