Women’s Basketball: Owls rally late before falling short 49-44 to UTSA

FAU shot 23% from the field in the loss.


Eston Parker III

Photo of Amber Gaston.

Michael Gennaro, Managing Editor

The FAU Owls (5-14, 1-7 C-USA) lost on their home court to the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Roadrunners (5-15, 2-7 C-USA) by a score of 49-44 on Saturday afternoon in a mistake-filled game marred by cold shooting and turnovers.

FAU never led in its game against UTSA in the Burrow at Abessinio Court. The Roadrunners opened the game on an 8-0 run and controlled the game until a late scoring drought gave the Owls a chance in the final moments. Ultimately, UTSA prevailed to win only its second road game of the season.

FAU shot just 23% in the game, including 6-31 from three-point range. UTSA wasn’t much better, hitting only 29% of its shots attempted. The Roadrunners nailed 6-17 from three, however, including several backbreaking shots when the Owls got close.

The Owls didn’t get on the board until junior guard Alexa Zaph made a layup with 5:34 remaining in the first quarter. FAU missed nine of its first 10 shots, putting it in a hole it could not recover from.

UTSA raced to an 18-6 lead in the first before redshirt senior forward Sofia Galeron nailed a three-pointer from the top of the arc to cut the lead to nine at 18-9 after the first quarter of play. The Owls shot just 4-17 from the floor in the first frame, hitting only one of 10 three-point attempts.

The cold shooting was a theme for the game. The second and third quarters were a slog for both teams, with sloppy ball handling and tons of missed opportunities. The Roadrunners led by eight at the halftime break and stretched their lead to 36-23 at one point, their largest lead of the game.

However, the Roadrunners missed six straight shots and turned the ball over on three straight possessions at the end of the third quarter as the Owls took advantage. A quick 6-0 burst by the Owls cut the lead to just 40-35 entering the final period, with redshirt senior guard Rita Pleskevich nailing a three-pointer and redshirt junior forward Janeta Rozentale bullying her way to the hoop to cap the run. 

The Owls had several chances late, but could not capitalize. Junior guard Nikola Ozola missed a wide-open three-point shot from the top of the key that would have knotted the game at 40 with 8:30 to go. A few sequences later, Zaph had a chance to tie the game at the line but split the free-throws, leaving the Owls down 40-39. 

Immediately following Zaph’s free throws, a huge three-pointer from UTSA’s junior guard Deborah Nwakamma stretched the Roadrunners’ lead to 43-39.

The Owls fought hard, gobbling up offensive rebounds and attacking the basket in the fourth quarter, but could not hit their free-throws to make the Roadrunners pay for fouling. The Owls shot 20 free-throws but hit just 10 of them, including numerous misses down the stretch.

Senior center Amber Gaston struggled, still playing with a minutes restriction after her two-week absence because of an undisclosed injury. Gaston shot 3-6 from the field but missed five big free throws and airballed a three-pointer. She scored seven points but looked agile, blocking three shots and altering countless others at the rim. 

After Pleskevich made a corner three to cut the Roadrunners’ lead to 45-43 with 2:24 to go, FAU appeared to be in position to steal the game. The Owls forced a UTSA shot-clock violation, but junior guard Kynadi Kuykendoll airballed a three that would have given the Owls the lead. Rozentale rebounded the ball and put it back in, appearing to tie the game at 45, but the basket was waved off as the ball had not left her hand when the shot-clock expired. 

With one last chance with under a minute to go, Pleskevich was blocked twice on the same possession, ending the Owls’ rally. She had a strong performance for the second straight game scoring 14 points, the only Owl in double figures. 

FAU could not overcome its cold shooting or its mistakes, coughing up 12 turnovers to only 10 assists.

The Owls head out on the road to Ruston, La. to play Louisiana Tech on Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on C-USA TV. 

Michael Gennaro is the Managing Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or message him on Twitter or Instagram @mycoolgennaro