Late first-half surge lifts UTSA past Black Bears

Posted Dec. 29, 2009, at 11:28 p.m.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The University of Texas-San Antonio closed out the first half with an 18-5 scoring run Tuesday night, then survived a late charge by UMaine to earn a 79-71 women’s basketball victory in the first round of the UTSA New Year’s Classic.

The Black Bears (2-8) lost for the fifth straight game despite generating their biggest offensive output of the season.

Coach Cindy Blodgett’s team takes on Stephen F. Austin in today’s 6 p.m. second-round tourney game.

UMaine, playing its 1-2-2 matchup zone most of the night, had some trouble in the first half trying to contain the Roadrunners’ 3-point shooters. Ashleigh Franklin scored 16 of her 18 points before intermission to spark UTSA (6-5).

However, the Bears played better defense in the second half before finally succumbing to foul woes.

“We played our matchup almost exclusively, which is really the first time we’ve been able to settle in it [this season],” Blodgett said. “We gave up some threes — they went 9-for-18 — but the kids never gave up and they played the entire 40 minutes.”

Senior guard Kristin Baker of Bingham spearheaded the UMaine offense, connecting for a career-best 22 points on 7-for-15 shooting, including 4-for-8 accuracy from 3-point range. She also had four assists.

Sophomore Samantha Wheeler registered her first career double-double, logging 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Amanda Tewksbury added 11 points and seven rebounds.

“We certainly scored enough points tonight,” Blodgett said. “There was a nice offensive flow. They were very willing passers to each other. It was good for us to see and good for them to feel.”

The Bears, who missed eight free throws, committed 17 turnovers.

Kameisha Johnson netted 16 points, Amber Gregg 14 and Whitney York 13 for the Roadrunners. York went 9-for-10 from the foul line.

The Roadrunners built a 13-point halftime advantage with a surge late in the first half. York made five of six foul shots down the stretch as UTSA put together an 11-0 run over the last four minutes.

UMaine’s last points of the half came on Baker’s 3-pointer at the 4:20 mark.

The Bears went 0-for-4 from the field and committed three turnovers during that span.

“What really hurt us in the first half was a stretch of [four] minutes where we didn’t score,” Blodgett said. “We came back and we fought in the second half and really competed very well.”

UMaine is without freshman guard Katelyn Vanderhoff, who did not make the trip to Texas.

Vanderhoff came down with flu-like symptoms during the week of Dec. 13 and appeared only briefly in the Bears’ Dec. 21 game against Duke. She returned home to Pennsylvania for the holidays and is recuperating there.

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