Incarnate Word takes a 29-24 halftime lead on Grambling State

The University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals opened their second game in the 210 San Antonio Classic on Sunday with a solid first half against the Grambling State Tigers, surging to a 13-point lead in the first 17 minutes.

The San Antonio-based Cardinals held on to take a 29-24 edge into intermission. All games in the four-day, four-team event are being played at the UTSA Convocation Center.

UIW opened the multi-team event on Friday with a 69-64 victory over Dartmouth College Big Green. Against Dartmouth, UIW starting point guard Jonathan Cisse scored 22 points and Trey Miller had 17 to pace the victory.

The Cardinals looked to their bench for a lift in the first half against Grambling. Guard Andre Cruz scored nine on three of five shooting, including two of three from 3-point distance.

Reserve guard Charlie Yoder scored five. Cruz and Yoder combined for three consecutive from long distance in one sequence.

UTSA notebook

Voters in San Antonio approved a massive city bond last spring that included $5 million earmarked for a men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball practice facility.

UTSA is expected to build a 49,774-square-foot structure that will connect with the Roadrunner Center of Excellence (RACE). Its cost is projected as $29.5 million.

An athletics department spokesman said in an email that there is no timeline yet on when construction would start or when the project could be completed.

20-point homecourt losses

Historically, it’s been tough to beat Coach Steve Henson on his home court at UTSA. Opponents have won only 29 out of 97 games against Henson-coached teams at the Convocation Center.

Even more rare are games in which an opponent has won by 20 or more. One of only two 20-point homecourt losses for Henson came Friday night against the Grambling State Tigers in the opener of the 210 San Antonio Classic.

Nov. 25, 2022 — Grambling State 75, UTSA 55
Nov. 12, 2018 — Oklahoma 87, UTSA 67

Grambling State rolls behind Gordon to a 75-55 victory over UTSA

The UTSA Roadrunners played with a certain edge in a recent three-game winning streak. In downing the St. Mary’s Rattlers, the Texas State Bobcats and the Prairie View A&M Panthers, they didn’t blow anyone off the court, but they also put together winning plays in key moments that allowed them to prevail.

Moreover, they found a potential go-to scorer in point guard Japhet Medor.

Coach Steve Henson. UTSA lost to Grambling State 75-55 in men's basketball on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Steve Henson says: ‘We need other people to create a little bit more for us’ on the offensive end. – Photo by Joe Alexander

All that came to a disappointing halt on Friday night on the first day of the 210 San Antonio Classic. The visiting Grambling State University Tigers shut down Medor early in the game, successfully keeping him from doing much damage with his drives to the hoop en route to a 75-55 victory at the UTSA Convocation Center.

“They were switching a lot,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “I mean, first couple of possessions, he didn’t have any success. Then he did. He got in there and drew nine fouls. He found his way.”

Regardless, Medor couldn’t match his production from Tuesday, when he ripped Prairie View for 28 points, including 16 of 20 free throws. The jet-quick senior drew 14 fouls against the Panthers and hit six of 10 field goals. Against Grambling, he was limited to 12 points on four of eight from the line and four of six from the field.

“You know, we don’t have anything offensively that’s just automatic for us,” Henson said. “We’re counting on him to get a lot done. When shots are going in, sometimes it’s because of his penetration. We need other people to create a little bit more for us. Last couple of games, it’s become a pretty obvious area of need for us … to get other people making plays.

“That didn’t really happen all night.”

Grambling State, on the other hand, had plenty of people making plays. Forward Carte’are Gordon led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds. Cameron Christon hit three of five on 3-point shots and scored 13. Meanwhile, Shawndarius Cowart, Virshon Cotton and Quintin Murrell scored eight each.

Japhet Medor drives against . UTSA lost to Grambling State 75-55 in men's basketball on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Japhet Medor goes top shelf against Grambling State’s Cameron Christon. Medor had 12 points and seven rebounds against Grambling. – Photo by Joe Alexander

On the other end of the floor, the Tigers’ defense stifled a UTSA offense that had looked very good earlier in the week. Coming off 60 percent shooting in the second half against Prairie View, the Roadrunners couldn’t get anything going. Grambling held the Roadrunners to 25.9 percent in the first half and 29.6 percent shooting for the game.

The Tigers led by as many as 24 points in the before intermission and by 28 once in the second half. With 3:41 remaining, the visitors had the Roadrunners down 70-42 after Cowart hit a shot in the lane to cap a 14-5 run. Oddly, the eventual final score matched the score of UTSA’s last loss, which came at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 11.

It may well be that the Roadrunners could be a team that looks good against certain squads this season because of certain matchups. Then, not so good against others. For instance, they didn’t seem to have trouble with Prairie View. Conversely, against a team such as Grambling, with more overall size, athleticism and quickness, UTSA may find the going tougher.

“I don’t disagree with that,” Henson said. “But, we got to figure something out offensively. I mean, defensively, it wasn’t good enough. But offensively, it’s just too many hard shots. Too many turnovers. Our turnovers are not out of a selfish nature. Our guys are trying to do the right things.

“We got to keep searching a little bit and find a way to make easier plays. Stronger plays. Create separation off our screens. Off ball screens. On ball screens. And better slips. Tonight, they were switching. We knew we needed to slip a lot and we just didn’t get much of that done.”

Records

Grambling (3-2)
UTSA (4-2)

Jacob Germany. UTSA lost to Grambling State 75-55 in men's basketball on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA senior Jacob Germany produced eight points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. – Photo by Joe Alexander

First half

The Tigers bolted to a 24-point lead and held off the Roadrunners at the end to take a commanding 35-19 advantage into the intermission.

Playing stifling defense on one end and scoring with regularity on the other, the Tigers jumped out to take charge early at 7-0, 16-4 and then, with a little less than 11 minutes remaining, 21-4.

Erik Czumbel. UTSA lost to Grambling State 75-55 in men's basketball on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Erik Czumbel battles to save a possession against Grambling State. – Photo by Joe Alexander

They took their largest lead at 33-9 when Murrell hit a three with 4:23 left. The Roadrunners went on a 10-2 run to the buzzer.

Nine players scored for Grambling in the half, including Cotton with eight points and Christon with five. In the early going, the Tigers dominated, hitting nine of their first 17 shots, while limiting the Roadrunners at the outset to three of 19.

Incarnate Word wins, 69-64

Jonathan Cisse produced 22 points and seven rebounds to pace the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals past the Dartmouth Big Green, 69-64, on Friday afternoon at the UTSA Convocation Center.

In the opening game of the 210 San Antonio Shootout, UIW’s Davante Dennis added 17 points and seven boards, while Trey Miller scored 15.

Brandon Mitchell-Day had 14 points and six rebounds for Dartmouth.

With the victory, UIW improved its record to 3-3 on the season. Dartmouth dropped to 1-4.

The four-team event takes a break on Saturday before continuing with two games each on Sunday and Monday at UTSA.

Records

Grambling (3-2)
UTSA (4-2)

Sunday

Incarnate Word vs. Grambling, 5 p.m.
Dartmouth vs. UTSA, 7:30 p.m.

Monday

Grambling vs. Dartmouth, 3 p.m.
Incarnate Word vs. UTSA, 6:30 p.m.

UTSA takes three-game winning streak into the 210 San Antonio Shootout

The 210 San Antonio Shootout, a multi-team event in men’s college basketball, opens today at the UTSA Convocation Center.

The host UTSA Roadrunners enter the three-day event, which covers four days, on a three-game winning streak.

Action begins this afternoon at 5 p.m. with Dartmouth playing the San Antonio-based University of the Incarnate Word. UTSA will play Grambling at 7:30 p.m.

All games will be held at the Convocation Center.

Friday

Dartmouth College, N.H. (1-3) vs. Incarnate Word (2-3), 5 p.m.
Grambling State, La. (2-2) vs. UTSA (4-1), 7:30 p.m.

Sunday

Incarnate Word vs. Grambling, 5 p.m.
Dartmouth vs. UTSA, 7:30 p.m.

Monday

Grambling vs. Dartmouth, 3 p.m.
Incarnate Word vs. UTSA, 6:30 p.m.

Medor and Buggs combine for 46 points as UTSA downs the Prairie View A&M Panthers, 82-75

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

As pages on the calendar flip to November, as the weather turns cooler and as the Thanksgiving holiday comes around, native Floridian Japhet Medor always thinks about the taste of his mother’s macaroni and cheese.

For John Buggs III, his thoughts sometimes take him home to Louisiana and a heaping plate of Cajun turkey.

This year, Medor and Buggs will spend their first turkey day in San Antonio with their new family — with their coaches and teammates in the UTSA basketball program. It promises to be a good day, with a morning practice, followed by lunch at the home of head coach Steve Henson.

John Buggs III. UTSA beat Prairie View A&M 82-75 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Shooting guard John Buggs III rises up to let one fly over a defender on the way to 18 points against the Prairie View A&M Panthers. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The impending holiday was made all the more special Tuesday night when the surprising Roadrunners won their third straight game and their second straight against a solid, mid-major program in NCAA Division I.

Five days after UTSA downed the two-time defending Sun Belt Conference champion Texas State Bobcats, Medor and Buggs started to cook on high heat offensively in an impressive 82-75 victory over the Prairie View A&M Panthers.

Medor, playing in only his fifth game as a Division I player, followed a 16-point effort against the Bobcats with 28 against the Panthers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Employing quick bursts into the paint and to the rim, he drew 14 fouls and hit 16 of 20 from the free throw line. On top of that, he added seven assists, for good measure.

Not to be outdone, Buggs scored 18 and matched teammate Isaiah Addo-Ankrah with four 3-pointers. As a team, the Roadrunners knocked down 11 from long distance, including two from D.J. Richards and one from Josh Farmer, to keep the Panthers on their heels.

Outside of nine second-half turnovers, the UTSA offense was about as good as coaches could have asked for.

The Roadrunners shot 60 percent from the field in the second half and 52 percent for the game. Additionally, in notching 13 assists on 24 baskets, UTSA underscored once again its emphasis on sharing the ball.

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah. UTSA beat Prairie View A&M 82-75 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah snapped out of a shooting slump by making four of seven from 3-point distance.
He had 13 points, two rebounds and two assists. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Asked about the meaning of a victory over a group of veteran players like the Panthers, who defeated the Pac-12’s Washington State Cougars last week, Medor didn’t hesitate with a reply. “It means that the sky’s the limit for us,” he said. “We have room to improve, and we’re making it happen. So I feel like the sky’s the limit for our team, and we’re going to get better every day.”

Seemingly, as Medor and Buggs have gained confidence, the players around them also have taken a few positive mental steps forward, as well.

“That’s what we talk about,” Henson said. “With Japhet, he did (tonight) exactly what our coaches said he did when (they) went to recruit him (last spring in Florida). I saw him practice. Our coaches saw him play in games. They came back and said he just draws fouls, puts pressure on the defense.

“He showed signs of that here and there (early this month). He had some stretches in the exhibition game (against Schreiner University), just serving everybody up. I mean, in the second half against St. Mary’s, when he took over the game … He’s had stretches before, and then obviously he took over tonight.

“Drawing 14 fouls,” the coach said, looking again at the stat sheet, “I don’t know if I’ve seen that very often.”

Records

UTSA 4-1
Prairie View A&M 3-2

Coming up

The Roadrunners host the 210 San Antonio Shootout this weekend. They’ll play Grambling State on Friday night (at 7:30), followed by games against Dartmouth on Sunday (7:30) and Incarnate Word on Monday (4:30).

Notable

Some in the program might be a bit surprised at the team’s record leading into Thanksgiving after a trip Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for the second game of the season ended with a 75-55 loss. UTSA took a beating in the second half on that Nov. 11 evening on the Gulf Coast, giving up 50 points.

DJ Richards. UTSA beat Prairie View A&M 82-75 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman DJ Richards scored eight points in 18 minutes off the bench. He made two of five 3-point shots, giving him nine of 21 for the season. His 42.3 percent on threes ranks second on the team to John Buggs’ 45.2. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In one stretch covering 17:30, the Islanders pounded the Roadrunners, 47-19. What has changed since then? In a sense, not much. But, then again, maybe the game opened some eyes about what can happen when not everyone on the roster is dialed in and ready to play.

“I think that loss at Corpus kind of lit a fire under us, making us not want to feel that feeling again,” Buggs said. “We’re just doing everything we can to power through games and just push through to get the win.”

Individuals

Prairie View A&M — Guard Will Douglas had 19 points on six of 12 shooting. Douglas also hit seven of nine at the line. Guard Jeremiah Gambrell produced 18 points, seven of 18 from the field. He hit two of seven from long distance. Tekorian Smith had 10 points, three assists and three rebounds. Kortrijk Miles produced eight points and four steals off the bench.

UTSA — Japhet Medor had 28 points on six of 10 shooting from the floor. He made 16 of 20 at the free-throw line. In a dominant showing, the Roadrunners’ point guard made three fewer free throws than Prairie View made as a team. John Buggs III had a career-high 18 points and hit four of seven from three. Buggs has made 11 of 18 from distance in his last three games. Isaiah Addo-Ankrah also hit four of seven from distance. A long-distance specialist, he started the season three for 23 in his first four games.

Medor’s first half

UTSA unleashed Medor offensively in the first half, and the Florida native responded with a Jhivvan Jackson-like tour de force. Known mostly as a pass-first point guard at Hillsborough College in Tampa, he scored 18 points as the Roadrunners surged into a 36-32 lead.

The San Antonio Spurs' Keldon Johnson. UTSA beat Prairie View A&M 82-75 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

San Antonio Spurs guard Keldon Johnson, seated courtside at the Convocation Center, shares a laugh with a friend at the Prairie View-UTSA game. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Playing man-to-man defense, the Panthers simply couldn’t stay in front of the 6-footer, who consistently drove past his man. When that happened, he usually would draw contact from someone else, the whistle usually would blow, and then he’d go to the free-throw line.

“I was told to be more aggressive, and my teammates helped me out a lot,” Medor said. “They closed out on Buggs a lot, and they were denying a lot, so it made it a lot easier.”

Another issue faced by the Panthers’ defense revolved around 6-foot-11 center Jacob Germany, the Roadrunners’ leading scorer from last year. The Panthers seemed reluctant to cheat off Germany, which gave Medor more room to operate.

Buggs and Medor have been in San Antonio working out together since June. In that regard, nothing that Medor does on the floor in a game will surprise Buggs.

“I see this every single day in practice,” he said. “One way or the other, if he’s not having 10 assists, hey, tonight, ya’ll saw 28 points. There’s nothing he really can’t do. So, it doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Prairie View’s rise

Under Coach Byron Smith, the Panthers forged records of 22-13, 19-13 and 16-5 in three seasons from 2018-19 through the 2020-21. In 2019, they won both the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular and postseason titles and qualified for the NCAA tournament. Last season, they fell off to 8-19. But coming into San Antonio, they had won three of their first four games, including a 70-59 victory last Tuesday at home against Washington State.

Japhet Medor. UTSA beat Prairie View A&M 82-75 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Japhet Medor sank 16 of 20 free throws and scored a career-high 28 points as the UTSA Roadrunners downed the Prairie View A&M Panthers at the Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Prairie View A&M and its big-guard tandem to challenge the UTSA Roadrunners

Jacob Germany celebrates as time runs out. UTSA beat Texas State 61-56 in men's basketball on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany and the UTSA Roadrunners will try to build on momentum as they host the Prairie View A&M Panthers tonight at the Convocation Center. UTSA had its best game of the season last Thursday night in downing the Texas State Bobcats. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Prairie View A&M Panthers will call on a couple of talented big guards to test the improving UTSA Roadrunners tonight.

Six-foot-five Will Douglas and 6-3 Jeremiah Gambrell will lead the Panthers (3-1) against the Roadrunners (3-1) at the UTSA Convocation Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

A week ago today, the two players with a combined 174 games of experience in NCAA Division I basketball paced Prairie View of the Southwestern Athletic Conference to a 70-59 victory on its home court over the Washington State Cougars.

Douglas, a Prairie View newcomer this season, exploded for 26 points and seven rebounds against the Cougars of the Pac-12. Gambrell scored 19.

Earlier, Washington State had downed the Texas State Bobcats, 83-61, on its home court in Pullman, Wash.

By extended comparison, UTSA played its best game of the season last Thursday in knocking off the Bobcats, 61-56, at the Convocation Center.

Against the Bobcats, the challenge for UTSA was to slow down 5-foot-9 Mason Harrell. Harrell scored 20 on the Roadrunners, but a 2-3 zone defense limited most of the rest of the Texas State offensive threats.

In the meantime, UTSA guards Japhet Medor and John Buggs combined for 29 points to lead the victory.

While Medor and Buggs aren’t the biggest guards in NCAA Division I and may not match up well in size compared to most players they’ll see this season — such as Douglas and Gambrell — they’re showing the ability to play at a high level.

In addition, 6-foot-5 UTSA freshman D.J. Richards is also coming along and gaining more confidence, giving the Roadrunners a chance to grow their offensive capabilities with three unique talents.

Medor is a slasher on the dribble, while Buggs and Richards are two quick-release, 3-point shooting threats.

Lately, Medor is the Roadrunners’ biggest problem for opponents. His quickness is hard to defend, even with help.

The Bobcats couldn’t stay in front of him at the end of a closely-contested game, and UTSA ended up winning by five.

UTSA coach Steve Henson applauded Medor for taking what the Bobcats’ defense was giving him. As the game progressed, Texas State’s defense kept extending, putting more pressure on the perimeter.

“Late in the game, it was super-extended and taking away passes,” Henson said. “When Japhet did beat his own guy, there wasn’t much help (to slow him) from getting to the rim, and we needed that. I wish we had two or three guys who could do that.

“We put (Christian) Tucker in there a little in the first half, because he’s a guy that can give us a little penetration. That’s key. They took us out of our stuff. They manhandled us out on the perimeter.

“You just got to get by your guy, which is what Japhet did, and he converted.”

Defending against Douglas and Gambrell could pose problems for the Roadrunners.

Not only is Douglas talented, he’s also experienced. The Memphis native has played in 102 games in his career, including 72 at SMU over four years from 2017-18 to 2020-21. At Prairie View, he played in 26 last season and in four in this, his sixth season as a collegian. Douglas is averaging 19.8 points on 52 percent shooting from the field.

In addition, he’s one of the Panthers’ best rebounders, averaging 5.5. Gambrell, with 72 games of experience in Division I, also brings experience. The Houston native is a fifth-year player, having spent two years at Western Kentucky and the past three at Prairie View. He’s averaging 13 points, two rebounds and two assists.

Coming up

Prairie View A&M at UTSA, tonight at 7, at the UTSA Convocation Center. The Roadrunners host the 210 San Antonio Shootout this weekend. They’ll play Grambling State on Friday night (at 7:30), followed by games against Dartmouth on Sunday (7:30) and Incarnate Word on Monday (6:30).

Records

UTSA (3-1)
Prairie View A&M (3-1)

NCAA Women’s Final Four returning to San Antonio in 2029

The NCAA Women’s Final Four will return to San Antonio in 2029.

The tournament will be held at the Alamodome, according to an NCAA news release. Previously, San Antonio and its downtown domed stadium have hosted the women’s version of the Final Four — the semifinals and finals of the NCAA tournament — in 2002, 2010 and 2021.

In 2021, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, San Antonio and the surrounding region played host to the entire 63-game NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, which relied on a controlled environment.

The Alamodome was the site when Stanford claimed the 2021 title in front of a limited capacity audience. It was also the site in 2002 when the all-time Women’s Final Four attendance record of 29,619 was set at the national semifinals and the national championship game.

NCAA Women’s Final Four
Future host cities

2023: March 31 and April 2, Dallas, Big 12 Conference and the Dallas Sports Commission, American Airlines Center

2024: April 5 and 7, Cleveland, Mid American Conference and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

2025: April 4 and 6, Tampa Bay, Fla., University of South Florida and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, Amalie Arena

2026: April 3 and 5, Phoenix, Arizona State University, Footprint Center

2027: April 2 and 4, Columbus, Ohio, The Ohio State University and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, Nationwide Arena

2028: March 31 and April 2, Indianapolis, Horizon League, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the Indiana Sports Corp, Gainbridge Fieldhouse

2029: March 30 and April 1, San Antonio, University of the Incarnate Word, University of Texas at San Antonio and San Antonio Sports, Alamodome

2030: April 5 and 7, Portland, Oregon, University of Portland and Sport Oregon, Moda Center

2031: April 4 and 6, Dallas, Big 12 Conference and the Dallas Sports Commission, American Airlines Center

Nwakamma-led UTSA women hold off the Abilene Christian University Wildcats, 76-70

Deborah Nwakamma. UTSA beat Abilene Christian 76-70 on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2022, at the Convocation Center in the Roadrunners' first women's basketball home game of the season. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Deb Nwakamma hit 6 of 12 from the field and scored a career-best 16 points in her team’s home opener Sunday at the Convocation Center.- Photo by Joe Alexander

Junior guard Deb Nwakamma hit a runner in the lane and a couple of free throws in the final 35 seconds as the UTSA Roadrunners held off the Abilene Christian University Wildcats, 76-70, for their first victory of the season Sunday afternoon at the Convocation Center.

UTSA’s home opener served as an eye-opener for those who have followed the Roadrunners’ program through the years, because the team scored 70 or more points in a game for the first time since Feb. 13, 2022.

On that date last season, UTSA hit 70 for the only time all season in an 81-70 road loss to Western Kentucky.

The victory over ACU was the first time UTSA hit at least 70 in regulation in front of the home fans since Feb. 6, 2021. In that instance, the Roadrunners scored 80 in four quarters of a 107-103 triple-overtime loss to the FIU Panthers.

UTSA reached the milestone against Abilene Christian with a balanced attack. Nwakamma, a 5-foot-8 guard from Lagos, Nigeria, finished with a team-high and career-best 16 points. She also had four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Queen Ulabo scored 11 points off the bench, while Sidney Love, Elyssa Coleman and Kyra White had 10 each for the Roadrunners, who shot 45.6 percent from the field.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA beat Abilene Christian 76-70 on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2022, at the Convocation Center in the Roadrunners' first women's basketball home game of the season. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Despite foul trouble, USC transfer Jordyn Jenkins played hard in her home debut with the Roadrunners, emerging with nine points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Responding to the home crowd and playing with emotion, the Roadrunners (1-2) were both fast-paced and effective for most of the afternoon on the offensive end. But the Wildcats (2-2) had their moments, as well, with ACU forward Maleeah Langstaff, a freshman, erupting for 23 points and eight rebounds.

“We’ve got to shore up our defense,” UTSA second-year coach Karen Aston said. “It’s got a lot of holes in it. But our offense is light years ahead of where we were last year.”

Last year, the Roadrunners averaged 53.9 points en route to a 7-23 record. This year, there is clearly some potential for a turnaround. In their first two games, they suffered two close road losses, falling 68-63 at Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 7, before dropping a 74-67 decision at TCU last Wednesday.

Against the Wildcats, the Roadrunners strung together a few stretches on offense that left the visitors searching for answers and the home crowd cheering. In the first quarter, for instance, they shot 52.6 percent from the field. In the third quarter, they shot 47.1 percent.

Moreover, Abilene Christian came to San Antonio with a good program, one that had reached the NCAA tournament in 2019. Last year, the Wildcats won 17 games in their first season in the Western Athletic Conference and beat the Roadrunners in Abilene by 19.

This year, the Roadrunners led most of the way and then showed some poise in the fourth quarter after the Wildcats pulled to within one.

Sidney Love. UTSA beat Abilene Christian 76-70 on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2022, at the Convocation Center in the Roadrunners' first women's basketball home game of the season. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Former Steele High School standout Sidney Love started and scored 10 points in her first UTSA home game. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“I thought it was most definitely the most complete game we’ve played all year long,” Aston said. “You know, we’ve played really good in some stretches. But as far as being able to keep a tempo about ourselves, we weren’t able to do that in the previous two games, particularly in the second half.

“We talked about that at halftime, to try to keep the tempo going and continue to look for fast break moments.”

At crunch time, many in the announced crowd of 784 may have figured that the Roadrunners would collapse as they did so many times last season when the Wildcats surged to within 60-59 with 7:22 remaining.

In response, the Roadrunners showed some poise and answered with six straight points, including four by Love. The player of the year in the San Antonio area high schools last year, Love, from Steele High School, added a couple of free throws in the final minute.

Nwakamma was also clutch, driving right to left and then shooting a 10-footer that banked in with 35 seconds left. It was a shot that all but ended the game, putting UTSA up by five. Nwakamma added a pair of free throws with three seconds remaining to close out the game.

In the interview room later, Nwakamma said she couldn’t remember exactly what happened on her drive to the bucket, only that she was just trying “to fight to the end.” Aston joked that, “I took a deep breath, is what I did,” before praising Nwakamma’s overall performance.

“I thought she was aggressive the entire game,” Aston said. “She took open shots. Looked confident. She never looked like she was down on herself. We had a peace about us (as a team) when she was in the game, which is good.”

Another interesting element to the game centered around Jordyn Jenkins, UTSA’s leading scorer, who never quite got into the flow of the offense because of foul trouble. She hit four of 11 from the field and scored nine points — and the Roadrunners still beat a good team.

Nwakamma said it feels good for the team to have an unselfish mindset along with so many talented offensive weapons.

“We have team bonding that we’ve been working on, and it’s really working, just sharing the ball,” she said. “You got to play unselfish basketball, make extra passes to make sure everybody gets to do something. It’s not just one (player). It’s a team game.”

Even though the crowd was modest, the excitement in the arena was evident as UTSA’s offense pushed a fast pace for most of the afternoon.

In the third quarter, for instance, fans stood and made a racket after the Roadrunners forced a turnover and got the ball to Hailey Atwood. Atwood, who worked hard to overcome a nagging Achilles injury in the offseason, drove most of the length of the floor to score just ahead of an ACU defender.

The crowd stood and celebrated a nine-point lead, the largest of the game, with 2:04 left in the third quarter.

Asked about the support, Nwakamma said UTSA players noticed the energy in the building. “It gives us life,” she said. “It made us feel like we have a chance to win. Stuff like that, we really need it, a crowd like that.”

Records

UTSA 1-2
Abilene Christian 2-2

Queen Ulabo and Hailey Atwood celebrate after the clock ran out. UTSA beat Abilene Christian 76-70 on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2022, at the Convocation Center in the Roadrunners' first women's basketball home game of the season. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Queen Ulabo and Hailey Atwood celebrate the team’s first victory of the season as time expires. Both contributed off the bench, with Ulabo scoring 11 points and Atwood seven. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Coming up

UTSA will open play in the Las Vegas Invitational on Friday afternoon against Missouri State. The Roadrunners will take on St. John’s on Saturday. They’ll return home to face Idaho on Dec. 10.

Notable

Two former San Antonio area high school standouts played well in their first UTSA home game. White, an all-star who contributed heavily to Judson’s state title team in 2019, produced 10 points, three assists and two rebounds in nearly 23 minutes.

Love, from Steele, had 10 points, three assists, a rebound and a steal. Both started, with White handling the ball much of the time. Love has been utilized in the last two games, at least, as a closer at the end of quarters. Against ACU, she hit the last shot of the first quarter.

Video highlights

Knocking down a three

Driving baseline

Closing out a quarter

Making a simple play

Igniting the crowd

Forcing a turnover

UTSA women set to open at home today against Abilene Christian

Kyra White at UTSA women's basketball practice at the Convocation Center on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA junior Kyra White is leading the team in averaging 34 minutes through the team’s first two games. White, a transfer from Southern Cal, played in high school at Judson. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Karen Aston’s UTSA Roadrunners are looking for their first win of the season today. In their home opener, they’ll host the Abilene Christian University Wildcats of the Western Athletic Conference at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.

In the Wildcats (2-1), the Roadrunners (0-2) will look to defeat a team that won by 19 points in last season’s matchup at Abilene.

Not only is it the first home game in Aston’s second season at UTSA, it’s also the first at home for Southern Cal transfer Jordyn Jenkins, an all-Pac 12 player last season. The 6-1 junior forward is one of eight newcomers on the Roadrunners’ roster.

Additionally, former San Antonio-area athletes Kyra White, Sidney Love and Alexis Parker will get their first opportunity to play in front of the home fans.

White, also a USC transfer, is from Judson. Love (from Steele High School) and Parker (Brandeis) are two of five UTSA freshman on this year’s team.

The Roadrunners have played two games on the road and have dropped both to in-state opponents. They fell 68-63 at Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 7, and then they dropped a 74-67 decision at TCU last Wednesday.

Programs in transition

As UTSA prepares to transition from Conference USA and into the American Athletic Conference next year, Abilene Christian is also going through changes.

Julie Goodenaugh is entering her 11th season as coach of the Wildcats. A former coach at Hardin-Simmons, she returned to Abilene in 2012, and in her first season at ACU, she guided her team to an NCAA Division II regional.

As the Wildcats moved into Division I and the Southland Conference in 2014-15, she continued to have success, leading ACU to 20-win seasons and into the Women’s NIT in two straight years, in 2016 and 2017.

In 2019, Goodenaugh’s team became the first in school history to reach the D-1 NCAA tournament. In 2019-20 season, when the Covid pandemic forced a suspension of play in the playoffs, the Wildcats finished 24-5.

Last season, the Wildcats finished 17-13 in their first year in the WAC. They defeated the Roadrunners 72-53 in Abilene.

Signings

UTSA announced that three players have signed letters of intent for the 2022-23 season:

Idara Udo — 6-1 forward, Plano, Plano East High School
Emma Lucio — 5-9 guard, Edinburg, Robert Vela High School
Aysia Proctor — 5-9 guard, Schertz, Samuel Clemens High School

Medor scores 16 as UTSA holds off the Texas State Bobcats, 61-56

Japhet Medor led UTSA with 16 points. UTSA beat Texas State 61-56 in men's basketball on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Japhet Medor used his speed to attack the Texas State Bobcats Thursday night, scoring a team-high 16 points. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Sometimes it seems that point guard Japhet Medor was born to pass the basketball. Then again, the 6-foot senior from Flordia is far from one dimensional.

Sometimes he takes it upon himself to shoot.

Medor did just that in the frantic waning moments Thursday night, leading the UTSA Roadrunners past the Texas State Bobcats, 61-56.

UTSA’s spark plug of a playmaker scored seven of his team-high 16 points in the final 3:30 as the Roadrunners registered their biggest victory of the season.

Jacob Germany celebrates as time runs out. UTSA beat Texas State 61-56 in men's basketball on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany celebrates as time runs out, and UTSA beats rival Texas State University by five. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Not only did they send their I-35 rivals home to San Marcos with a loss, they also knocked off a team that had won the last two Sun Belt Conference regular-season titles.

Savoring the victory for his teammates, Medor explained later that in crunch time of a frenzied game he makes decisions on whether to pass or shoot based on his view of the court.

“I just know where my players are going to be, at the time and moment,” he said. “At a time like that, I’m going fast, and they’re going with me, and it just makes it easier. Everybody gets to their spot. If I’ve got a little hole, I’ll try to sneak through the hole and hit a shot. If not, I’ll take the layup.”

Medor scored 16 in 27 minutes, hitting 5 of 7 from the field and 6 of 8 from the free throw line. He also had five rebounds and two assists.

With just under four minutes remaining, the Bobcats had seized a one-point lead on a three from guard Mason Harrell, the Bobcats’ leading scorer.

Medor didn’t flinch. First, he drove and drew a foul and made two free throws. Next, he euro-stepped his way to the rim to score a field goal and went to the line again. Medor connected to make it a four-point game.

As the clock ticked under 60 seconds, UTSA still had the lead by four but turned it over when DJ Richards was stripped in the backcourt. Harrell turned and scored on a layup. Texas State was within two.

But, by then, Medor had his rhythm. He sped into the defense again and drew a foul from Harrell, and then knocked down two free throws. That was it for the Bobcats, who had won on the road at Rhode Island last Saturday night.

UTSA coach Steve Henson said it was an important victory for his players.

“We needed to walk out of here feeling better,” he said. “Our guys have been good for so long. They’ve done everything we’ve asked of ’em (since June). Just practice the right way. We’ve had no distractions whatsoever …

“This one certainly feels really good. They’re excited. I think it’s something we can build on.”

UTSA didn’t play great but played just well enough to pull out a victory. The Roadrunners shot only 42.9 percent but held the Bobcats to 34.4. They turned it over 19 times, but they also won the rebounding battle, 40-33.

Guard John Buggs III enjoyed a solid night with 13 points and eight rebounds. He hit 3 of 5 from three-point distance, building on a streak in which he has knocked down 7 of 11 from distance over the past two games.

Jacob Germany scored 12 and Richards had nine off the bench. Aleu Aleu was big on the boards with nine rebounds in nearly 21 minutes.

Forward Tyrel Morgan scored 20 to match Harrell, a quick, 5-foot-9 playmaker. Morgan did his work inside, making 8 of 11 from the field. Harrell was 8 for 18, including 4 of 9 from three.

Records

UTSA 3-1
Texas State 2-2

Coming up

Prairie View A&M at UTSA, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Aleu Aleu is fouled after grabbing a defensive rebound in the final moments of the game. He finished with nine rebounds. UTSA beat Texas State 61-56 in men's basketball on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Aleu Aleu is fouled after grabbing a defensive rebound in the final moments of the game. He finished with nine rebounds. – Photo by Joe Alexander

First-half recap

For the first time this season, the Roadrunners played zone defense. They played it for most of the first half en route to a 31-27 lead against the Bobcats.

Falling back into the 2-3 zone on their home court at the Convocation Center, they held the Bobcats to 33.3 percent shooting from the field and 3 of 11 from three (for 27.3 percent).

UTSA used the ploy from the outset and jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

Behind Tyrel Morgan and his 13 points, the Bobcats rallied late in the half to regain the advantage. An alley-oop dunk by Morgan lifted Texas State into a 24-23 lead. The Bobcats made it 25-23 on a Morgan free throw with 3:54 left.

Undaunted, the Roadrunners rallied behind Germany and Buggs to lead by four at the break. Christian Tucker capped the run with a drive to the basket and two free throws with no time remaining. Both Germany and Buggs had 10 points apiece at the half.

John Buggs II celebrates late in the game. UTSA beat Texas State 61-56 in men's basketball on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

John Buggs II celebrates late in the game as UTSA nails down a key early-season victory. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Pre-game

The UTSA Roadrunners will host the Texas State Bobcats in men’s basketball. The game is set for 7 p.m. at the UTSA Convocation Center.

Both teams come in with 2-1 records, but the Bobcats might be the team to beat. Texas State won at Rhode Island of the Atlantic 10 conference in its last outing. Moreover, the Bobcats have won back-to-back Sun Belt Conference regular-season titles.

UTSA coach Steve Henson said the Bobcats have “similarities” to last year’s team, even though some of the the top players have moved on in their careers.

“There are similarities, for sure, because they’ve got a great system,” Henson said. “They’re very-well coached. You expect them to be really locked in defensively. Their habits are very good. They’re all on the same page.”

Texas State lost its opener at Washington State of the Pac-12. It followed with a victory at home over non-Division I Mid-America Christian. In Game 3, the Bobcats traveled again and came away with a 70-66 victory over Rhode Island.

Guard Brandon Davis led the way with 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the field. Guard Mason Harrell leads the Bobcats in scoring for the season, averaging 18 a game.

The Roadrunners have yet to hit on all cylinders. They downed Division III Trinity University 74-47 in their opener. Next, they lost 75-55 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. On Monday night, they hosted Division II St. Mary’s of San Antonio and pulled out a 66-59 victory.

Offense has been a concern. UTSA is shooting 40 percent from the field and 25.6 percent from three-point territory.

“I think we have a great team,” UTSA guard Erik Czumbel said. “I think we have a lot of room to grow. Defensively. Rebounding. There are lot of areas we can work on. But I think we are taking the right steps.”

San Antonio Missions announce local ownership group

Reid Ryan. The San Antonio Missions announced their new ownership group on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

Reid Ryan, the son of Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, will oversee San Antonio Missions baseball operations. Ryan addressed the media at a Wolff Stadium news conference on Thursday – Photo by Joe Alexander

The San Antonio Missions baseball team on Thursday morning unveiled its first local ownership group in almost 40 years, a transaction hailed as one that would secure the franchise’s future in the Alamo City.

The Missions of the Double-A Texas League will continue to play at Wolff Stadium, but it has also been widely speculated that a new downtown facility and the potential for a move back to Triple-A could be on the horizon.

Designated Bidders LLC, a group formed by local business executives, has agreed to acquire the Missions from long-time franchise owner Dave Elmore and the Elmore Sports Group, the ball club announced.

The price tag for the franchise was reported at $29 million by Baseball Digest.

For the first time since the late Tom Turner Sr. owned the franchise from 1979-86, the Missions will operate under local ownership. Elmore, a California-based travel industry executive, purchased the franchise in 1987 and ran it for 34 years starting in the summer of 1988.

Principals in Designated Bidders include attorney Bruce Hill; Randy Smith and Graham Weston of Weston Urban; local entrepreneur Bob Cohen of Bob Cohen Strategies and Peter J. Holt, the chairman of Spurs Sports & Entertainment. SS&E operates the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.

Ryan Sanders Baseball, owned by the families of baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, CEO Reid Ryan, and Don Sanders, will join Designated Bidders as owners and operators of the Missions.

Reid Ryan, the son of the former major league pitching great, will oversee a Missions front-office that will include longtime team president Burl Yarbrough and his staff.

Local elected officials hailed the ownership transaction at a news conference near home plate at Wolff Stadium, the team’s home field since 1994.

“This is a long-time coming,” said outgoing Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, the stadium’s namesake. “I’m glad to see it did get done before the year was over. It’s something a number of us have pushed for, for a long time. To get fan support, do the right thing for baseball, you need local ownership, people that have given back to the community.

“We’ve got a great ownership group, every one of them. Every one of them have made contributions to the community. I think they’re well respected. That’s what it takes to build a successful franchise.”

Ryan Sanders Baseball has long been recognized as a leader in minor league sports.

The group founded the Round Rock Express and built Dell Diamond in 2000. It also founded the Corpus Christi Hooks and developed Whataburger Field in 2005. Both Reid and Nolan Ryan have extensive experience with MLB. Nolan Ryan served as the Texas Rangers’ CEO from 2008-13 and Reid Ryan worked as the Houston Astros’ president of business operations from 2013-19.

The Missions first played in 1888. A franchise that has produced the likes of Brooks Robinson, Billy Williams, Joe Morgan, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Mike Piazza and Pedro Martinez has been a Double-A team for most of that time.

In 2019, they played one season in Triple A in the Pacific Coast League, followed by the next season when they were forced to suspend operations in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the pandemic subsided, the Missions returned to play in 2021 at the Double-A level, having to make a move down in the wake of a new agreement between minor and major league baseball. Concerns about an aging stadium that didn’t meet new specifications were cited as a factor.

The Missions are an affiliate of major league baseball’s San Diego Padres.

Smith talked to reporters after making opening remarks and fielded questions about the possibility of a new stadium.

In addressing reporters, Smith said stadium planning will be a focus of the new group in coming months. Asked how much land it would take, he cautioned that “there has been no site selected.”

“There is no plan,” he added. “The plan has strictly been, let’s have local ownership. That is the only way this will stay in San Antonio long term. So that was step one.

“A fully developed plan for a ballpark is definitely next on the agenda, and to answer your question around how many acres are required, is kind of like asking how long is a rope.”

In discussing site evaluation, Smith referenced Southwest University Park in El Paso.

“The smallest site for a new ballpark is actually kind of amazing,” he said. “It’s in El Paso, home of the Chihuahuas, and it sits on just over five acres. But that is five acres shaped by the hand of God himself.”

Southwest University Park opened in 2014. It cost a reported $72 million. Smith said El Paso’s tract of land was “the perfect shape for a ballpark.”

“Most new ballparks range between seven and eight acres,” he said. “But it’s far more about the dimension. There’s an optimal orientation for a ballpark. You can have a 10-acre site that doesn’t work and a five-acre site that’s perfect.”