Women’s basketball earns first win after a six-game losing streak


Julia Maenius

Yuliyana Valcheva surveys the court during a game against UTEP last week. The senior from Varna, Bulgaria is averaging 3.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game this season for UTSA

Maddie Cortez, Contributing Writer

The UTSA women’s basketball team (5-15, 2-7 C-USA) traveled to Florida, losing 81-53 to the Florida International Panthers (10-7, 2-4 C-USA) on Thursday, Jan. 27, and winning 49-44 to the Florida Atlantic Owls (5-14, 1-7 C-USA) on Saturday, Jan. 29. 

The Roadrunners and Panthers commenced Thursday’s game by staying even with a 6-6 tie and another of 8-8 shortly after. FIU claimed four consecutive buckets to take an early 12-8 lead. UTSA lost momentum after feeding 40% of the game’s turnovers in the first quarter alone. The Panthers began heating up in the second quarter by launching their score gaps which eventually lingered for the rest of the game. The ‘Runners were able to keep up with the Panthers (13-13) until the Panthers gained a nine-point lead after an 11-2 stretch. In the first half’s final minutes, UTSA fought for seven more points before falling short to FIU 30-22. 

The Panthers started the third quarter with a nine-point scoring surge until Queen Ulabo hit a jumper cutting the lead down to 15. Midway through the third, the Panthers rolled out another double-digit scoring run, until Deborah Nwakamma swished her first ‘Runner three-pointer, breaking the Panther’s streak. The Panther’s run quickly resumed, leading 57-32 in the third. UTSA gained some momentum in the final quarter with a 7-3 run, but the game still resulted in an 81-53 loss overall.

After returning from an injury during her 2020-2021 season, Nwakamma’s first game back drew in a hot 11 points, with three shots made from beyond the arc. Nwakamma and Elyssa Coleman led their team in points, rebounds and tied field goals. 

UTSA broke their losing streak after prevailing against the Owls and adding to their winning record. UTSA started with an 8-0 spree with the help of Coleman and Chantel Govan, 

putting up six points from their three-pointers. The scoreboard watched the ‘Runners stretch their lead, ending the quarter up 18-9. Fans saw repetition in the second quarter after the ‘Runners proceeded with a 5-0 stretch midway through the second and another 5-2 run in the last minute. At halftime, UTSA headed into the locker room leading the game 28-20. 

The competition peaked between the ‘Runners and Owls’ at the start of the second half. Both teams faced different highs, but UTSA came out on top. The third quarter harbored FAU’s highest-scoring quarter of 15 points. However, a 13 quarter by UTSA had the upper hand in keeping the lead intact and claiming the third quarter, 40-35. Tensions grew as the scoreboard read 40-39 with a little over half the final quarter to go. Nwakamma, a game leader, secured a three-point bucket gaining a slight edge. The game’s last moments involved a back-and-forth 6-5 exchange, closing the game out for UTSA with a 49-44 win. 

In the first half of the game, UTSA became locked-in when handling the ball and reduced their turnovers by 43% from their previous game. In doing so, the net was hot from jumpers and three’s due to the 48 total rebounds collected from rebound leaders Hailey Atwood, Coleman and Ulabo. Jadyn Pimentel also enabled points by leading the team with four assists. UTSA will battle the Rice Owls (6-9, 1-6 C-USA) at the Convocation Center, Thursday, Feb. 3.