Jackson-led Texas A&M-Corpus Christi wins first NCAA tournament game

The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders overcame the loss of one of their top players Tuesday night and won the first NCAA tournament game in school history, holding off the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks, 75-71, in Dayton, Ohio.

Playing in the NCAA First Four for the second year in a row, the Islanders utilized the speed and attacking style of senior point guard Jalen Jackson, who scored a career-high 22 points. Jackson is a familiar face in San Antonio, as he led the Wagner Thunderbirds to the state finals in 2019.

Jackson, a 5-10 guard who started his college career at North Texas, scored 18 in the second half for the Islanders. After Jackson made two free throws to give his team a three-point lead, drama unfolded in the final seconds.

Southeast Missouri guard Phillip Russell came down and missed an open three with two seconds remaining. Isaac Mushila gathered the defensive rebound, got fouled and hit a free throw on the other end for the game’s final point.

With the victory, the Islanders (24-10) will move on to play the Alabama Crimson Tide (29-5) in the tournament’s round of 64 on Thursday night. The Tide are the No. 1 seed in the NCAA South region.

The Islanders were one-and-done in two previous trips to the NCAA tournament.

In 2007, they opened as a 15th seed in the round of 64 at Chicago and lost to Wisconsin, 76-63, Last season, in a round-of-68 game at Dayton, they were matched against the Texas Southern Tigers and bowed out, 76-67.

Islanders guard Terrion Murdix started against Texas Southern a year ago and produced 10 points and six assists. Murdix, one of the team’s key players, was unavailable to play against SEMO with a knee injury.

Chris Harris scored 23 points to lead the Redhawks (19-17), who earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning four games in four days for the Ohio Valley Conference postseason title.

Mushila, a 6-foot-5 forward, had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Islanders, who won the regular-season and postseason titles in the Southland Conference. Guard Ross Williams had 13 points off the bench and Trevian Tennyson added 12.

San Antonio’s Lutz, Jackson return to NCAA tournament with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Islanders coach Steve Lutz. A&M-Corpus Christi beat UTSA 77-58 on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Islanders coach Steve Lutz, a 1991 East Central High School graduate, has notched NCAA tournament berths in each of his first two seasons as a college head coach. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders are returning to the NCAA tournament.

Looking for the first NCAA victory in program history, Steve Lutz-coached A&M-Corpus Christi will play in one of the First Four games at Dayton, Ohio. The Islanders (23-10) will take on the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (19-16) at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday on truTV.

A&M-Corpus Christi guard Jalen Jackson playing at the UTSA Convocation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. - photo by Joe Alexander

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi guard Jalen Jackson played in San Antonio at Wagner High School and led the Thunderbirds to the 2019 Class 5A state title game. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Lutz, a San Antonian and a 1991 East Central High School graduate, is two-for-two in his head coaching career, leading the Islanders to back-to-back postseason titles in the Southland Conference.

After claiming the SLC trophies, he has also earned automatic bids to the NCAA tournament each time.

Last week, San Antonio’s Jalen Jackson emerged as the SLC tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Jackson, a senior point guard from Wagner High School, had 17 points and six assists in the title-game victory over Northwestern State (La.).

The rise of the Islanders under Lutz has been impressive. A&M-Corpus Christi had lost 73 games over four seasons before the school hired Lutz, a former player at East Central and Texas Lutheran and an assistant coach at the University of the Incarnate Word.

In 2021-22, his first team at A&M-Corpus Christi finished 23-12. They finished fourth in the SLC regular season and then won three games in three days for the postseason crown. Going on to Dayton for an NCAA First-Four matchup against Texas Southern, a battle between No. 16 seeds, the Islanders lost 76-67.

This year, with essentially the same core of players — forward Isaac Mushila and guards Terrion Murdix, Trevian Tennyson and Jackson — A&M-Corpus Christi backed up last year’s strong finish with a 23-win season, and counting

In the SLC race, the Islanders went 14-4 to finish first in the conference, earning a double-bye though the tournament. In the tournament, at Katy, they defeated McNeese and Northwestern State to claim back-to-back bids to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

Their only previous NCAA appearance came in 2007 when they swept to a postseason SLC crown and lost to Wisconsin, 76-63, in the round of 64.

This year, the Islanders hope to win their first NCAA game against a Southeast Missouri State program that finished the regular season with a 15-16 record, before reeling off four victories in four days for the Ohio Valley Conference postseason crown. The winner between SEMO and A&M-Corpus Christi will advance to play Alabama, the top seed in the NCAA South region and the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, on Thursday night in Birmingham, Ala.

Lutz paid his dues in the profession to snag his first head coaching job in NCAA Division I. He worked as an assistant coach at UIW, Garden City Community College (Kan.), Stephen F. Austin, SMU, Creighton and Purdue.

At Creighton of the Big East, he worked on Greg McDermott’s staff and helped lead the BlueJays to four NCAA appearances.

At Purdue of the Big Ten, under Matt Painter, he coached in three more NCAAs including one run to the Elite Eight in 2019.

Jackson was a four-year starter at Wagner and, under coach Rodney Clark, the two helped propel the Thunderbirds to the 2019 Class 5A state championship game. In a heartbreaker, Wagner lost the state title match, 77-64, to Mansfield Timberview at the Alamodome.

Transitioning to college basketball, Jackson started his career at North Texas. He spent two years in the program and was part of the 2021 squad that won the Conference USA postseason title. The No. 13 seed Mean Green upset the fourth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers in the first round.

For the 2021-22 season, Lutz took the job at A&M-Corpus Christi and Jackson joined him. In their time together, the Islanders have posted a 46-22 record, with two NCAA berths. Now they have a chance to make a little more history Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio.

San Antonio-area players

In the NCAA men’s basketball tournament

Zach Clemence, Kansas, a 6-10 sophomore forward from Antonian HS, Findlay Prep (Nev.) and Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.) Upcoming: Top-seeded Kansas plays Howard Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa. Clemence played as a freshman at Antonian in the 2017-18 season before going to prep school. In two years with the Jayhawks, he has played 42 games, including 18 this season. This year, he averaged 1.4 points in 5.9 minutes.

Vincent Iwuchukwu, Southern Cal, a 7-foot-1 freshman center, formerly of Cole HS, La Lumiere, Ind., Montverde Academy, Fla., Southern California Academy. Upcoming: Tenth-seeded Southern Cal will play No. 7 Michigan State Friday in Columbus, Ohio. After suffering a medical scare last summer, Iwuchukwu returned in January to play 14 games for the Trojans, averaging 5.4 points. He hasn’t played in a few weeks because of a reported back injury.

Jalen Jackson, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, a 5-11 senior guard from Wagner HS, transfer from North Texas. Upcoming: A&M-Corpus plays Southeast Missouri State in a battle of 16 seeds on Tuesday in Dayton. The winner advances to play top-seeded Alabama on Thursday in a round-of-64 game at Birmingham, Ala. Jackson started at point guard and averaged 7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

Langston Love, Baylor, a 6-5 redshirt freshman guard, formerly of Steele HS, Montverde Academy, Fla. Upcoming: Third-seeded Baylor plays UC Santa Barbara on Friday in Denver in an NCAA South region game. Utilized primarily off the bench, Love averaged 6 points and 2.2 rebounds in his first season after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. He hasn’t played since Feb. 27 with an eye injury.

Kevin McCullar, Jr., Kansas, a 6-6 senior guard, formerly of Wagner High School, a transfer from Texas Tech. Upcoming: Top-seeded Jayhawks plays the Howard University Bison Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, in the NCAA West region. In his first year on the team, McCullar has been one of the key players on the Jayhawks, averaging 10.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals. He sat out the Big 12 tournament final with back soreness.

Austin Nunez, Arizona State, a 6-2 freshman guard from Wagner HS. Upcoming: Arizona State will play as an 11-seed against Nevada in the First Four in Dayton on Wednesday. The winner advances to face six-seed TCU in Denver on Friday in the round of 64. Nunez played in 28 games for the Bobby Hurley-coached Sun Devils in his first year out of high school. He averaged 4.5 points in 16.3 minutes. Nunez has not played since Feb. 18 at home against Utah and has been out the last six games, including two in the Pac-12 tournament, with a concussion.

(Players with San Antonio roots who attended high school out of the area)

Micah Peavy, TCU, a 6-7 junior forward from Duncanville, transfer from Texas Tech). Upcoming: Six seed TCU will meet either Arizona State or Nevada on Friday in Denver in the round of 64. Peavy is the son of Duncanville coach David Peavy, an Alamo Heights HS grad who attended UTSA and graduated from Incarnate Word. Micah Peavy led Duncanville to a 6A state title in 2019 and in 2020 was the state’s player of the year. Now in his second year at TCU under Jamie Dixon, he’s averaging 7.3 points and 3.1 rebounds for the Horned Frogs.

Other SA-area players

On NCAA Division I rosters

Marco Anthony, Utah, a 6-6 senior guard from Holmes, formerly of Virginia and Utah State

Adam Benhayoune, LSU, a 6-5 sophomore guard from O’Connor HS

Trey Blackmore, Cal State-Fullerton, a 6-2 freshman guard from Cole HS

Marques Gates, Houston Christian, a 6-0 redshirt freshman guard from Clemens HS

Ja’Sean Jackson, Abilene Christian, a 6-0 sophomore guard from Wagner HS

Ellis Jefferson, Lamar, a 6-0 senior guard from Brandeis HS

Gerald Liddell, Detroit Mercy, a 6-8 senior forward from Steele HS; transfer from Texas, Alabama State

Carlton Linguard Jr., UTSA, a 7-foot junior center from Stevens HS, transfer from Temple JC and Kansas State

Silas Livingston, University of the Incarnate Word, a 5-9 freshman guard from Cole

Jayden Martinez, North Texas, a 6-7 senior forward from Steele; transfer from New Hampshire

Jordan Mason, Texas State, a 6-2 freshman guard from Clark

Ze’Rik Onyema, UTEP, a 6-8 sophomore forward from Jay HS

Dre Ray, Incarnate Word, a 5-9 freshman guard from Cole HS

Brendan Wenzel, Wyoming, a 6-7 guard from O’Connor HS; a transfer from Utah

Dalen Whitlock, Texas State, a 6-4 sophomore guard from Clark HS

Florida Atlantic men, Middle Tennessee State women win in C-USA tournaments

Top-seeded teams in both Conference USA basketball tournaments emerged Saturday as postseason champions, with both the Florida Atlantic University men and the Middle Tennessee State women claiming automatic bids into their respective NCAA tournaments. The C-USA’s tournaments were held at The Star in Frisco.

All UTSA sports teams will transition from the C-USA into the American Athletic Conference next season.

Men’s title game

The FAU Owls bolted to a 19-point halftime lead and cruised to the C-USA postseason title on Saturday night. Alijah Martin led the Owls with 30 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. UTSA entered the tournament as the No. 11 seed and lost in the first round last Wednesday against No. 6 Rice, 72-71. A potential game-winning shot by Japhet Medor was initially counted and then waved off because it was released after the buzzer.

Women’s title game

Top-ranked Middle Tennessee State defeated No. 2 Western Kentucky, 82-70, on Saturday for the C-USA postseason championship. Jalynn Gregory made 5 of 5 3-pointers and scored 24 points for the Lady Raiders. Sixth-seeded UTSA went 2-1 in the tournament. Karen Aston’s Roadrunners beat No. 11 Florida Atlantic 69-68 in the first round and No. 3 Rice 62-54 in the quarterfinals before bowing out of the semifinals Friday night, falling 70-55 to the Lady Toppers.

WKU eliminates UTSA from the C-USA women’s tournament

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The Western Kentucky Lady Toppers hit four three-point shots in a dominant third quarter Friday night, blowing open a close game and then rolling to a 70-55 victory to eliminate the UTSA Roadrunners in the semifinals of the Conference USA women’s basketball tournament.

A key sequence came when WKU’s Teresa Faustino hit one from long distance, followed moments later by two in a row from Karris Allen. After Allen’s long ball swished through the nets, the Lady Toppers had a 48-34 lead with 4:26 left in the period.

WKU widened the lead to as many as 21 points early in the fourth, and UTSA never recovered. As a result, the Lady Tops will move on to play for the title Saturday against the Middle Tennessee State Lady Raiders.

UTSA will return home, its season ended on an off night when its star player couldn’t avoid foul trouble. Jordyn Jenkins, the C-USA Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, played only 19 minutes before fouling out in the fourth quarter with seven points and seven rebounds.

After the game, played at The Star in Frisco, second-year Roadrunners coach Karen Aston expressed some bittersweet feelings. She felt bad for her players, who were playing mostly on heart in their third game in three days.

But in another sense, she expressed pride that her team reached the semifinals of a postseason tournament, a level that the UTSA program hadn’t attained since the 2009 Southland Conference championship season.

“We ran into a better team today, for sure,” Aston said, in an interview with JJ Perez of InsideRunnerSports.com. “They probably had fresher legs, and we just ran into a buzz saw, to be honest with you.”

For the game, the Lady Tops hit 11 three-point shots as they raced to their fifth win in a row and their second in two days in Frisco.

“It’s kind of a perfect storm, when you run into a team like that, and you don’t have probably all the gas in your tank that you need,” Aston said. “I think this is also a learning experience for us, how to handle being in the third round. How to handle your emotions as you get through the tournament.

“This team hasn’t been here before (so) this is a tremendous amount of progress for this program. I hope we’ve gained some respect from some people, including you guys (in the media), and I hope that people will continue to follow our team.”

Entering the C-USA semifinal on a six-game winning streak, including two in the last two days at the tournament, the Roadrunners never got their game untracked. They shot 38 percent from the field and hit only one of 14 three-point attempts.

Moreover, they couldn’t sustain possessions, turning the ball over 20 times to offset their 47-27 rebounding advantage. Sidney Love was the only UTSA player in double figures with 13 points. Freshman forward Maya Linton finished with nine points and six boards.

Elyssa Coleman, in foul trouble in the first half, pulled down 10 rebounds for the game but scored only five points. Kyra White, a junior guard who transferred with Jenkins from Southern Cal to UTSA in the offseason, played 37 minutes and finished with two points and five rebounds.

Forward Jaylin Foster led the Lady Tops with 13 points, while guards Acacia Hayes and Hope Sivori scored 10 apiece.

In the first half, Jenkins was whistled for two offensive fouls in the first three and a half minutes of the game and went to the bench. In the second quarter, both Jenkins and Coleman were on the bench with two apiece as WKU maintained the lead in a close game.

Late in the third quarter, as WKU was surging, Jenkins was whistled for her third and fourth fouls only 47 seconds apart, forcing Roadrunners coach Karen Aston to take her out again.

Jenkins scored five points in the fourth period before getting called for her fifth, fouling out with 25 seconds remaining.

It was a tough way for the season to end for the 6-foot transfer from Southern Cal, who set the school’s single-season scoring record and led the C-USA with an average of 21 points per game.


WKU 19-12
UTSA 13-19

C-USA women’s tournament
At The Star, in Frisco

Saturday’s game

No. 1 Middle Tennessee State (27-4) vs. No. 2 WKU (19-12), 4:30 p.m.

Campos says Henson will return next season to coach the UTSA men’s basketball team

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

Steve Henson will return to coach the UTSA Roadrunners men’s basketball program next season, said Lisa Campos, the university’s Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics.

Campos released a statement to the media in the wake of back-to-back 10-22 seasons under Henson.

“After careful evaluation of our men’s basketball program, including candid and open discussions with Coach Henson on the team’s performance and his leadership, he will remain as head coach for the 2023-24 season,” Campos said in a statement.

“Coach recognizes that we have high expectations at UTSA for all of our athletic teams and that this year’s men’s basketball season did not meet those expectations,” Campos added. “He is committed to substantive improvement, has already begun a complete evaluation of the program and will make the changes necessary to enable success next season.”

After being hired in the spring of 2016, Henson, a former assistant coach at Oklahoma, has served as head coach of the Roadrunners for seven seasons.

In 2018, UTSA extended his original contract by three seasons through 2023-24, raising his base salary from $280,000 to $325,000 per year.

UTSA men’s basketball, in its 42-year history, has never enjoyed sustained success. The program has qualified for the NCAA tournament only four times. The Roadrunners haven’t been to the NCAA since 2011.

Prior to Henson’s arrival, the program had suffered four straight losing seasons. The Roadrunners were 10-22, 8-22, 14-16 and 5-27 through 2015-16, the last of Brooks Thompson’s 10 years as the school.

Henson’s chief accomplishment to this point has been his recruitment and development of guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace.

Both joined the team in 2017 and, by the time they departed in 2021, both had became the top two scorers in school history. UTSA had winning seasons overall and in conference play in three of their four seasons.

The Roadrunners have struggled the past two seasons without the two high-scoring guards. Especially in conference play. This year, they finished in last place in Conference USA at 4-16. UTSA will move into the American Athletic Conference next season.

Steve Henson’s record

2016-17 — 14-19 and 8-10 in Conference USA
2017-18 — 20-15 and 11-7 C-USA
2018-19 — 17-15 and 11-7 C-USA
2019-20 — 13-19 and 7-11 C-USA
2020-21 — 15-11 and 9-7 C-USA
2021-22 — 10-22 and 3-15 C-USA
2022-23 — 10-22 and 4-16 C-USA
Overall: 99-123
x-UTSA played in the CIT postseason tournament in 2018

UTSA women have excelled lately even when Jenkins struggles

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA women’s basketball team is built around junior forward Jordyn Jenkins, the Conference USA Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA women's basketball beat No. 21 Middle Tennessee 58-53 on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

C-USA Player of the Year Jordyn Jenkins played through foul trouble and scored 22 points in 25 minutes Thursday against Rice in the conference tournament quarterfinals. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Ask anyone why UTSA has been able to forge a 9-3 record over the past six weeks, after starting the season with 15 losses in 19 games, and you will hear all about Jenkins, the best player in the program since Monica Gibbs led the 2008 and 2009 teams to a pair of conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances.

Just this week, however, fans have started to realize that UTSA is not a one-woman show.

The Roadrunners have started to blossom into a team that can play championship-caliber basketball even when Jenkins isn’t on her game or is saddled with foul trouble. Just yesterday, Coach Karen Aston’s ball club pulled itself out of a 15-point deficit to win its second game in two days at the C-USA tournament, rallying to beat the Rice Owls, 62-54.

In victories over Florida Atlantic and Rice in the past two days, Jenkins has played only 21 and 25 minutes, respectively. When she was not on the floor, the team did not cave in as sometimes happened back in November and December. The team keeps playing. Thus, UTSA will play tonight in Frisco against the WKU Lady Toppers in the C-USA semifinals.

Here is a look at a few players not named Jordyn Jenkins who have elevated the team into one of the four still alive and vying for the C-USA title:

Freshman point guard Sidney Love

Sidney Love. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 77-61 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Sidney Love keeps the defense honest with her ability to drive to the bucket. She’s also cut down on turnovers drastically over the last four games. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Love is playing with confidence and doing what she does best, which is scoring. Utilizing her quickness and ability to dribble drive either to the right or left, the freshman from Steele High School hit eight of 16 shots from the field against Florida Atlantic and five of eight against Rice. She’s scored 33 points in the tournament, none more important than the 11 in the fourth-quarter comeback yesterday against Rice.

Junior guard Kyra White

Ms. Versatility is also one of the most competitive kids I’ve ever seen. White handles the ball, distributes, plays defense, rebounds. Everything. Even with a shaky first-half performance against Rice, she pulled herself together and continued to play hard in the third and fourth quarters. She even got a few shots to go down. Looked to me like she just willed it to happen, and it did.

Kyra White. UTSA women's basketball beat No. 21 Middle Tennessee 58-53 on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Kyra White produced nine points, eight rebounds and five steals against the Rice Owls. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore center Elyssa Coleman

The 6-foot-3 sophomore from Atascocita has 18 points, 17 rebounds and six blocked shots in two games at Frisco. Going back to the start of UTSA’s 9-3 push toward respectability, she’s been a defensive force. Not quite as fast as Jenkins, she can run the floor well and always causes problems for opponents driving the ball. Coleman isn’t always highly involved in the offense, but when she is, she seems to deliver. She was four of eight from the field against Florida Atlantic and four of 11 against Rice.

Guard Hailey Atwood

Hailey Atwood has emerged as Coach Karen Aston’s go-to defender against the opponent’s best perimeter threat. Atwood also brings a tremendous amount of energy. She started off slowly this year as she worked her way back in injury rehabilitation, but she is now entrenched as a valued starter. Other players in the rotation during the tournament have included Deb Nwakamma, Siena Guttadauro, Maya Linton, Queen Ulabo and a cameo yesterday by Madison Cockrell. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Kyleigh McGuire or Alexis Parker tonight against WKU, either.

Elyssa Coleman. UTSA beat Rice 66-53 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA sophomore Elyssa Coleman is a post player who made the C-USA’s all defensive team. — File photo by Joe Alexander


Looks to me like center Nissa Sam-Grant will be a solid contributor next year. She is 6-4 and can run pretty well. She’s a transfer who sat out all this season.

C-USA women’s tournament

Friday’s semifinals

No. 1 Middle Tennessee (26-4) vs. No. 4 UTEP (20-10), 4:30 p.m.
No. 2 WKU (18-12) vs. No. 6 UTSA (13-18), 7 p.m.

Saturday’s championship game

Friday’s winners, 4:30 p.m.

UTSA women engineer a monster comeback to win again in Frisco

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Basketball is their game, and they all play on the same team, but it has become clear in the last month or so that the UTSA Roadrunners are more than that. Way more. They’re a group of women who keep getting more remarkable by the day.

Karen Aston. UTSA beat Rice 66-53 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Karen Aston’s UTSA Roadrunners have rebounded from a 4-15 record to win nine of their last 12 games, including six in a row. – File photo by Joe Alexander

They started the season with a string of frustrating losses, and now here they are, one win away from playing for the Conference USA postseason title.

“Gosh, it’s hard to put into words how proud I am of this group,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said Thursday, after her sixth-seeded Roadrunners rallied from a 15-point, first-half deficit to stun the three-seed Rice Owls, 62-54, in the C-USA tournament quarterfinals.

With the victory, UTSA claimed its sixth win in a row and made a little bit of school history by winning for the second time in two days in the tournament being contested at The Star in Frisco.

Not only did the Roadrunners earn a spot in Friday night’s semifinals against the two-seed WKU Lady Toppers, but they also became the first UTSA women’s basketball team to win multiple games at a conference postseason tournament in 14 years.

The last one to do it? The Monica Gibbs-led 2009 Roadrunners, who swept three games in Katy to claim the Southland Conference postseason title and a No 15 seed in the NCAA tournament.

This time, it was Sidney Love, Kyra White, Jordyn Jenkins and others who created the magic. They stayed focused against the Owls even when it appeared as if they were more likely to be on the bus ride home to San Antonio later in the evening, rather than having dinner together and preparing a game-plan for the semifinals.

“The coaches said it in the locker room later,” Aston said. “The players kind of checked themselves at halftime. We didn’t play very well in the first half. We played … sort of how we played early in the year, and somewhere in the second half they sort of found themselves again. And remembered who they really are.

“I just thought we dug really deep,” the coach added. “Started to get stops. Obviously, got more aggressive. I thought Kyra and Sidney’s aggression in the second half was really the difference in the game. It opened up some stuff for the other players. So, really it was just a mindset. We changed our mindset in the second half.”

White, a junior guard from Judson, sat next to her coach in the postgame interviews and put her own spin on what she thought it was that changed for her teammates.

“The want to not go home,” she replied. “We just all wanted to be as connected as we could in the last 20 minutes and fight for one another. It’s too early to go home for us. So we just kept that in mind and kept (focusing) on the bigger picture.”

White’s inference might make some in the C-USA administration a bit nervous.

Could a team with a 13-18 record win two more games in Frisco and claim the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAAs? Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing, considering the talents of Jenkins, Love, White and others.

Jenkins, a 6-foot junior transfer from Southern Cal, brushed off foul trouble to finish with 22 points and seven rebounds. In the fourth quarter, the C-USA Player of the Year took over with 12 points, including nine in the last two minutes.

Backcourt mates Love and White also were very good when it mattered. Love had 11 of her 13 points in the fourth, including one stretch when she scored eight in a row. White finished her day with nine points, eight rebounds and five steals.

The 22-win Owls played well early, running off to a 29-14 lead with 3:56 left in the half. They also led 31-19 at intermission and 42-34 at the end of three quarters. But as it turned out, their tournament came to a close, as did their five-game winning streak.

India Bellamy and Ashlee Austin led Rice with 14 and 10 points, respectively.


Rice 22-8
UTSA 13-18

C-USA women’s tournament
At The Star, in Frisco

Thursday’s quarterfinals

Middle Tennessee State 84, Charlotte 53
UTEP 64, Louisiana Tech 54
WKU 71, UAB 67
UTSA 62, Rice 54

Friday’s semifinals

No. 1 Middle Tennessee (26-4) vs. No. 4 UTEP (20-10), 4:30 p.m.
No. 2 WKU (18-12) vs. No. 6 UTSA (13-18), 7 p.m.

Saturday’s championship game

Friday’s winners, 4:30 p.m.


The Roadrunners have had their struggles this season, starting out 2-7 in the nonconference phase of the schedule. Entering C-USA play, things didn’t get much better. They played the first half of a 20-game conference slate and put down a 2-8 record. In the second half, the Roadrunners started to click, winning seven of their last 10. Now that they’ve beaten Florida Atlantic and Rice on back-to-back days at the tournament, it means that since the last weekend of January, they are 9-3.

Can the Rice women stay with UTSA on the boards today?

Elyssa Coleman. UTSA women's basketball beat No. 21 Middle Tennessee 58-53 on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Six-foot-three center Elyssa Coleman figures prominently in UTSA’s stature as one of Conference USA’s best rebounding teams. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The sixth-seeded UTSA Roadrunners will meet No. 3 Rice Owls today at 2 p.m. in Frisco in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA women’s basketball tournament.

Both the Roadrunners and the Owls have won five games in a row, setting up an intriguing third matchup between the teams this season.

Rice won by two points in the first meeting at Houston. UTSA returned the favor last month with a 13-point victory in San Antonio.

I’ll leave the coaching to UTSA’s Karen Aston and Rice’s Lindsay Edmonds. But as I sit in the living room waiting to watch this one on television, here are a few thoughts:

Can Rice stay with UTSA on the boards?

As one of the dominant rebounding teams in the C-USA, the Roadrunners out-muscled the Owls on the glass in both games this season. Even though Rice won 78-76 on its homecourt on Jan. 16, UTSA prevailed on the glass, 43-30. In UTSA’s 66-53 victory in San Antonio on Feb. 16, the Roadrunners won the boards battle again, 45-23. If the Owls plan to hold their seeding and win today, they’ll need to do a better job in this department.

Is UTSA’s turnover issue under control?

The Roadrunners need to be prepared to deal with pressure on the ball. They hurt themselves in both games against the Owls with turnovers. In fact, they turned the ball over 20 times in each game. UTSA had been doing a much better job in that department coming down the stretch of the regular season. But in the Roadrunners’ victory over the FAU Owls Wednesday, the turnover bug reared its head once again. They had eight miscues in the first quarter. UTSA will need to get it under control if they hope to beat the Owls.

Katelyn Crosthwait — Rice’s secret weapon?

Rice guard Katelyn Crosthwait averages only 9.4 points per game, so her name usually doesn’t jump out on the statistics sheet. But in Rice’s first game with UTSA this season, she buried seven 3-pointers and scored a season high 23 points. Don’t look now, but Crosthwait is getting hot again. The 5-10 senior from Purcell, Okla., has scored 11, 17, 6, 22 and 22 in her last five games. In her last two games, she’s hit nine 3-point shots combined. The Roadrunners may need to make her put it on the floor and, ideally, force her to take tough two-point field goals.

C-USA women’s tournament

Thursday’s quarterfinals

Middle Tennessee State beats Charlotte, 84-53
UTEP beats Louisiana Tech, 64-54

Friday’s semifinals

No. 1 Middle Tennessee (26-4) vs. No. 4 UTEP (20-10)

Rice eliminates UTSA in the first round of the C-USA tournament

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA players celebrated for a precious few seconds Wednesday night on one of the two basketball courts set up inside The Star in Frisco.

Japhet Medor. Rice beat UTSA 88-81 in overtime in Conference USA men's basketball at the Convocation Center on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA point guard Japhet Medor, shown here competing against Rice in San Antonio on Jan. 16, led the Roadrunners in the C-USA tournament with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. – File photo by Joe Alexander

They thought they had beaten the Rice Owls in the Conference USA men’s tournament.

But in the end, game officials reviewed the last play and waved off a dramatic, game-winning shot by Japhet Medor because it was released from his hand after the buzzer.

Consequently, the Owls escaped with a 72-71 victory, eliminating the 11th-seeded Roadrunners in the tournament’s first round and bringing an end to a disappointing season.

No. 6 seed Rice will move on to play the third-seeded UAB Blazers in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.

A downcast UTSA coach Steve Henson, talking with radio play-by-play man Andy Everett on the postgame show, praised his players’ resolve to stay together through a tough season.

The toughest part of it, incidentally, being the last play.

“I’ve been a part of a few of those over the years, and it doesn’t get any easier,” Henson said. “We had one at UNLV. We had one in the conference tournament at Oklahoma against West Virginia. Buddy Hield hit a shot and we celebrated, and they went back and waved it off. It’s hard to take.”

In the final analysis, what will hurt the Roadrunners the most about the end of the game is that they executed nearly flawlessly and came up less than a second shy of what would have been a sweet victory.

Guard Quincy Olivari hit a driving bank shot to boost the Owls into a 72-67 lead with 1:19 remaining.

Even though Medor turned it over on UTSA’s next possession, the Roadrunners kept fighting, forcing a missed three by Owls forward Cam Sheffield.

UTSA rushed it up the court and went to center Jacob Germany, who hit a turnaround from six feet with 23 seconds left, bringing the Roadrunners to within 72-69.

After a timeout, Rice inbounded to Mekhi Mason, who was immediately trapped by Roadrunners guards Christian Tucker and D.J. Richards.

Richards got his hands on it for a held ball, which resulted in a Rice turnover and a UTSA possession.

The Roadrunners inbounded and looked for a three, but then Isaiah Addo-Ankrah saw a lane and drove it for a layup with eight seconds left, cutting the lead to the eventual final score.

On the inbound, UTSA fouled immediately, sending Olivari to the line for a one-and-one with 7.2 seconds left.

Olivari missed the free throw. UTSA secured the rebound and dished to Medor, who sped to the other end.

In traffic, he went up for the shot and banked it in, prompting the scoreboard to reflect oh, so briefly a 73-72 victory for the Roadrunners.

But not for long.

As officials started to review the play at the monitor, it became apparent during televised replays that Medor’s shot would not count. The ball clearly was still in his hands when the red lights around the backboard flashed, signaling no time left.

The shot didn’t count, and the Roadrunners’ season was over.

“Our guys are crushed and disappointed,” Henson said.


UTSA 10-22
Rice 18-14


Rice — Quincy Olivari, 18 points on seven of 18 shooting from the field. Also, eight rebounds. Mekhi Mason, 12 points and three assists. Cam Sheffield, 11 points and seven rebounds. Max Fiedler, 10 points on five of six shooting, six assists and four rebounds.

UTSA — Japhet Medor, 20 points on seven of 14 shooting. Also, six rebounds and six assists. D.J. Richards, 14 points, including three 3-pointers. Jacob Germany, 11 points on five of 13 from the field, and six rebounds.


UTSA finished with a 10-22 record for the second straight season. UTSA also has been ousted from the C-USA tournament in the opening game two years in a row. Last year, they were beaten 67-64 by the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

The loss to Rice marked the end of a 10-year run for UTSA men’s basketball in Conference USA. UTSA will move into the American Athletic Conference next season.

Roadrunners center Jacob Germany had one blocked shot against Rice, which tied him with McEverett Powers for third place on the career list with 105. If he has played his last game at UTSA, Germany will finish ninth in scoring with 1,293 points. He would also finish fourth in rebounding with 779.

First half

The Owls hit 50 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes and built a 42-33 halftime lead on the Roadrunners.

Striking early in the C-USA tournament opener for both teams, the Owls outscored the Roadrunners 8-0 in the first minute and never trailed. Cam Johnson and Quincy Olivari knocked down three pointers and Max Fiedler added a layup in the opening salvo.

UTSA went to the bench and plugged in a few reserves to turn it around. The Roadrunners had it going momentarily when Christian Tucker’s pullup cut the Rice lead to 10-9.

From there, the Owls went on an 11-1 run which was capped by an Alem Huseinovich three-point basket. Hoisted out of the corner, it gave the Owls 21-10 lead.

The Roadrunners trailed by as many as 12 in the half and never got closer than five before intermission. Richards buoyed the UTSA hopes with 11 points in 17 minutes.

C-USA men’s tournament
At The Star, in Frisco

Wednesday’s results

WKU 73, UTEP 67
Louisiana Tech 81, FIU 76
Rice 72, UTSA 71

Thursday’s quarterfinals

No. 1 Florida Atlantic (28-3) vs. No. 8 WKU (17-15), 5:30 p.m.
No. 4 Middle Tennessee (18-13) vs No. 5 Charlotte (18-13), 6 p.m.
No. 2 North Texas (25-6) vs. No. 10 Louisiana Tech (15-17), 8 p.m.
No. 3. UAB (23-8) vs. No. 6 Rice (18-14), 8:30 p.m.

UTSA women grind out a 69-68 victory over FAU in postseason tournament opener

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

What the UTSA Roadrunners may have lacked in artistic style, they made up for with gritty determination on Wednesday afternoon at The Star in Frisco.

Freshman Sidney Love hit two free throws with six seconds left, lifting the sixth-seeded Roadrunners to a 69-68 victory over the No. 11 Florida Atlantic University Owls at the Conference USA tournament.

Love produced 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as UTSA won its tournament opener and advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinals against the Rice Owls.

“This game was exactly like I thought it would be,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said. “Two teams that were pretty evenly matched…Really, really super even. Both teams I thought played their hearts out.”

UTSA was off its game early, turning the ball over with unforced errors to allow last-place FAU to stay close.

“There was a little bit of an ebb and flow to it,” Aston said. “As far as turnovers were concerned, maybe the difference in the game might have been us not turning it over in the second half near as much.”

With C-USA Player of the Year Jordyn Jenkins of UTSA in foul trouble, FAU led by one point going into the second quarter.

Just before halftime, Love hit three straight baskets for the Roadrunners, who went into halftime leading 28-24.

In the second half, Jenkins started to find a rhythm and UTSA threatened on a few occasions to run away with it.

Back-to-back threes by Jenkins and Siena Guttadauro lifted the Roadrunners into a 12-point lead midway through the third.

After fending off an FAU push, UTSA answered with its own surge, forging a 10-point advantage in with seven minutes remaining when Kyra White drilled a long three off the wing.

Down the stretch, the Owls would not fold, as guard Alexa Zaph stroked her fifth t of triple of the game.

Another big play for FAU came when Joiya Maddox tied the score on a three-point play.

Then, as the clocked ticked under one minute, the Owls followed with another brazen attack on the basket. Forward Janeta Rosentale drove the right side of the paint for a go-ahead bucket with 15 seconds left.

Trailing by one at that point, the Roadrunners called time, got themselves organized and put the ball in Love’s hands.

The former standout at San Antonio-area Steele High School promptly drove into the paint and was fouled. She made both free throws with 6.2 seconds left to boost the Roadrunners’ winning streak to five games.

Not bad for a player in her first collegiate postseason game.

Love said in a zoom interview that the game is easier for her now than it was back in November and December.

“It’s just ‘play basketball’ and don’t over-think anything,” she said. “Don’t worry about too much. With tournament play, it’s even more thrilling. I just want to do the best for my team.”

For FAU, Zaph was pretty thrilling herself. She scored 19 points and hit five of seven from beyond the arc.

Hubbard, also one of the conference’s top freshmen, scored 17 on five of 15 shooting. In the end, the Owls (12-18) couldn’t close it out against the Roadrunners (12-18) and lost their ninth game in a row.

Jenkins, who led C-USA in scoring with a 21.1-point average, finished with 18 points in only 22 minutes.

As usual, the junior transfer from USC was efficient, as she knocked down seven of 11 shots from the field.

At the end, Jenkins set the table for Love with two big plays, scoring from the low post with two minutes left and then sinking two free throws with 34 seconds remaining.

“We really honestly just played good enough to win,” Aston said. “I told them before the game, when you get into tournament play it doesn’t have to be pretty.

“You know, you’re trying to win. Whatever you have to do, to do that. I thought they took that to heart, and, I’m just super proud.

“We won a game here last year, and you want to build on that and have a chance to win more than one. We’ve given ourselves a chance to do that now.”

C-USA women’s tournament
At The Star, in Frisco

Wednesday’s results

Charlotte 72, FIU 59
UAB 75, North Texas 71
UTSA 69, Florida Atlantic 68

Thursday’s quarterfinals

No. 1 Middle Tennessee State (25-4) vs. No. 9 Charlotte (12-18), 11 a.m.
No. 4 UTEP (19-10) vs. No. 5 Louisiana Tech (19-11), 11:30 a.m.
No. 2 WKU (17-12) vs. No. 10 UAB (14-16), 1:30 p.m.
No. 3 Rice (22-7) vs. No. 6 UTSA (12-18), 2 p.m.