Starting the season strong, the UTSA women’s basketball team crushed the Howard Payne University Yellow Jackets 95-40 in its final exhibition game on Saturday, Nov. 8.
Junior forward Akunna Elonu, with 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting, and freshman guard Carlie Heineman, with 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting, led the Roadrunners to their second victory of the pre-season.
“I feel good,” said Heineman. “It’s not necessarily about the score,” said the six-foot San Antonio native after UTSA’s 55-point win. “We are moving well together, and hopefully this continues throughout the year.”
The Roadrunners produced skilled offensive and defensive teamwork and left the Yellow Jackets in a swarm of confusion, allowing UTSA to hold a double-digit lead throughout the game.
“We concentrate on moving the ball, on moving as players, court space and on taking advantage of the quickness and speed that we have,” said UTSA Head Coach Lubomyr Lichonczak.
A determined UTSA defense pressured Howard Payne to commit 34 turnovers and make poor offensive decisions throughout the game.
With a 27-point lead over the Yellow Jackets, the Roadrunners closed the first half 48-21.
Despite deliberate personal fouls against the Roadrunners, UTSA kept a fast-paced momentum throughout game.
“We have really good chemistry – y’all saw that today,” said UTSA sophomore guard Alana Heard about her team. Heard had six assists and four steals during the game. “We just have fun playing, and we are practicing hard to get ready for the rest of the season.”
On fire after halftime, the Roadrunners, shooting at 67 percent while executing a resolute defensive strategy, surged to a 50-point lead over the Yellow Jackets that was accentuated throughout the second half.
“We’ve got stuff to work on,” said Lichonzcak. He leads the Roadrunners as they prepare to enter into their second season in Conference USA (C-USA).
During their first season in C-USA, the Roadrunners were 14-17 overall and 4-12 in C-USA and played in the C-USA Women’s Basketball Championship.
“Some of the things you could get away with against a (shorter) team like that, you couldn’t get away with against Texas,” said Lichonzcak, referring to UTSA’s upcoming match against the University of Texas, who finished 22-12 overall and ranked third in the Big 12 last season.
“Texas is huge,” remarked Lichonczak on the approximate six-foot-height across the Longhorn team.
“So it’s going to be a little more difficult to get those inside baskets that we got today.”
The whole team of Roadrunners contributed in the win against the Yellow Jackets. “This is just a start,” said Lichonczak about the exhibition contest success.
“Some kids got an opportunity to play, and that’s an important thing with a game like today’s.”
The Roadrunners hope to continue their momentum throughout the season as they face the University of Texas Longhorns in Austin on Saturday, Nov. 15. Tip-off is at 2 p.m at the Frank Erwin Center.