UTSA women’s basketball was on the road in Boca Raton this past weekend on Friday, Feb. 12, and Saturday, Feb. 13, to take on the Florida Atlantic Owls (6-8). In a continuation of their recent performances, UTSA dropped both games against the Owls and saw their record fall to 2-17 on the season and 0-14 in Conference USA (C-USA) play. This brings the ‘Runners losing streak up to 15 straight games, with second half struggles largely contributing to these losses.
Game one tipped off on Friday night, and the game started out as a back and forth contest. Yuliyana Valcheva scored six of the first 11 points for the ‘Runners, including a jumper that tied the score at 11, midway through the first quarter. Things would go downhill from there, however, as FAU ripped off an 11-0 run to take a 22-11 lead by the end of the quarter, and UTSA failed to score over the final four minutes. The second quarter saw UTSA chip away at the lead, limiting Florida Atlantic’s offense and drawing as close as 23-27 midway through the quarter. Once again, though, the end of the quarter would pose a problem as the Owls closed the first half on an 8-2 run to head into halftime with a 25-35 lead over UTSA.
The second half began with an 11-3 run from Florida Atlantic that opened up an 18-point lead, their largest of the game, at 28-46 early in the third quarter. UTSA would respond with a 6-0 run punctuated by an Emilie Baek three-pointer, which brought the ‘Runners back within 12 points. They could not sustain the offensive push, however, as their offense would go cold scoring just six points for the remainder of the quarter to enter the fourth down 40-55. The two teams played a very even fourth quarter but unfortunately for UTSA, that was not going to be enough for them to close the gap. A Valcheva layup with a little under half the quarter to go drew them within 10 and gave the ‘Runners some hope, but that was as close as they came. Florida Atlantic closed out the game and took the win 59-72. Mikayla Woods led all UTSA scorers with 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a season-high six steals. Valcheva contributed 13 points and nine rebounds while Baek continued to demonstrate her range, chipping 13 points of her own due in most part to her knocking down four three pointers. As has been the case during their downturn in form, shooting was once again a major issue for the ‘Runners as they shot just 35.5% from the field.
Game two Saturday afternoon did not go much better for the ‘Runners. FAU got off to an early 7-2 lead in the first quarter, but UTSA did not let the game get out of control at this point, and by the end of the quarter, FAU would only lead by three, 18-21. Things turned sour for UTSA midway through the second quarter, however. A back and forth quarter of action saw UTSA trailing 26-31 midway through the second. Then FAU ripped off a large 14-4 run to take a 30-45 lead into halftime. UTSA was smothered in the second quarter as they only attempted 10 shots, by far their lowest number of attempts in a quarter during the game.
Coming out of halftime, UTSA was looking to come out much faster in the third quarter and close the gap to set up a fourth quarter comeback. FAU would not oblige, however, opening the quarter on a 14-5 run to go up by 24 midway through the third and nearly put the game completely out of reach. The teams would trade buckets for the rest of the quarter, and FAU led 43-65 heading into the fourth quarter. UTSA suffered an abysmal fourth quarter, shooting 6.7% from the field and only managing to score seven points in the final frame. FAU was content to put it on cruise control and took the victory by a final score of 50-79. Despite being down by 15 heading into halftime, UTSA could have had a chance to get back into this game, but was let down by a poor effort from the field, shooting just 16.1% from the field in the second half. Baek led all UTSA scorers with 12 points, all of which came from three point range, where she was four of seven. Woods narrowly missed out on a double-double, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds, surviving a one of 10 shooting night from the field by making a career-high eight free throws.
The weekend sweep was just the latest loss for UTSA, whose last win came two months ago on Dec. 15 against Northwestern St. Shooting the basketball continues to be a major problem area for UTSA as they shot just 30.7% for the weekend, and their defense was unable to cover up this deficiency, allowing an average of 75.5 points per game to FAU during the series. Despite being 0-14 in conference play, UTSA remains mathematically alive for the conference tournament, sitting three games behind the sixth place UAB Blazers in the C-USA West division. UTSA will attempt to find answers this weekend on Friday, Feb. 19, and Saturday, Feb. 20, when they take on the Charlotte 49ers (8-7, C-USA 7-3) during senior weekend for the UTSA program.