C-USA tournament: Old Dominion eliminates UTSA, 65-45

Karen Aston. The UTSA women's basketball team lost its 2021-22 season opener to Stephen F. Austin 77-50 on Tuesday at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA finished the season 7-23 under first-year UTSA women’s basketball coach Karen Aston, but the team showed a competitive spirit that points to better days ahead. – File photo by Joe Alexander

The first season of UTSA women’s basketball under Coach Karen Aston is in the history books. The Roadrunners have finished 7-23. It’s not where Aston wants the program to be in the future but, all told, it was quite an improvement over the 2-18 season a year ago.

Amari Young produced 16 points, five rebounds and four assists on Wednesday as the Old Dominion Monarchs ousted Aston’s Roadrunners from the Conference USA tournament in the second round, 65-45.

In the game played at The Star complex in Frisco, Aziah Hudson had 14 points, Iggy Allen 12 and Mariah Adams 10 as the Monarchs won their 23rd game of the season and advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinals against the North Texas Mean Green.

The Roadrunners’ season has come to an end, but not without a big effort in the tournament.

On Tuesday, Aston’s players pulled together and knocked off the UTEP Miners, 58-57, in overtime. Less than 24 hours later, they were on the court again against one of the better teams in the league and stayed in the game for more than three quarters.

LaPraisjah Johnson led with 21 points and four rebounds. Deborah Nwakamma scored seven. Afer that, the Roadrunners just didn’t get the firepower they would need to knock off the Monarchs.

First half

Old Dominion battled to a 31-26 lead against UTSA in the first half. Trailing by eight after the first quarter, a 15-12 second-period push lifted the Roadrunners back into contention. Johnson had five of her eight first-half points in the second quarter. For Old Dominion, Hudson scored eight points, while Adams, Allen and Young chipped in with six each for the Monarchs.

Records

UTSA 7-23
Old Dominion 23-8

Coming up

Thursday, 11:30 a.m., Old Dominion (23-8) vs. North Texas (16-11).

Notable

The Roadrunners defeated the UTEP Miners, 58-57, in overtime on Tuesday. Redshirt freshman Elyssa Coleman led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

The Monarchs were among teams that did not play on Tuesday, so they were playing their first game in the tournament. ODU entered the tournament led by Iggy Allen and Ajah Wayne, who were named first team All-Conference USA on Monday. An injury kept Wayne from playing against UTSA.

A championship legacy

Old Dominion is considered one of the traditional programs in women’s basketball.

Basketball was played at ODU starting in 1969-70, long before the NCAA began sponsoring sports for women. In 1974, the school became the first in the state of Virginia to offer athletics scholarships for women. The Monarchs won two national championships in 1979 and 1980 in the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW).

Two of the greatest players in women’s basketball history, Nancy Lieberman and Anne Donovan, played for the Monarchs. ODU won the NCAA Division I title in 1985 with a team led by Medina Dixon and Tracy Claxton.

Roadrunners on the rebound

UTSA’s greatest seasons in women’s basketball came in 2008 and 2009 under the late Rae Rippetoe-Blair, who coached the Roadrunners to back-to-back Southland Conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances.

UTSA finished 23-10 in 2008 and 24-9 in 2009. The UTSA women have been down recently. They were 9-17, 7-19, 6-23 and 2-18 in the past four years, before the arrival of Aston, a former head coach at the University of Texas.

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