New in The JB Replay: The UTSA women are set to tip off against the first-place Charlotte 49ers at 2 p.m. Please see my preview, just posted to the website. https://t.co/hyCDEtJ4sq, #AmericanHoops pic.twitter.com/maSNgc1imx
— Jerry Briggs (@JerryBriggs) January 14, 2024
By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay
Dazia Lawrence and the Charlotte 49ers are the talk of American Athletic Conference in women’s basketball.
Picked to finish 10th in the league’s preseason poll, the 49ers sit in first place in the AAC with a 4-0 record.
They’re warming up at the UTSA Convocation right now, preparing for a 2 p.m. game against the UTSA Roadrunners women.
Dazia Lawrence, a dynamic guard-forward, leads the 49ers. She averaged 28 points and 5.5 rebounds last week. This week, she torched the Rice Owls for 24 points in a 61-54 victory Thursday night in Houston.
“She’s definitely the head of their team,” UTSA guard Sidney Love said. “We’re just going to have to know that she’s going to hit tough shots. We’re going to have to contain her. We’ll have to adjust to what she can do. But we’ll be all right.”
UTSA has a player in Elyssa Coleman that has been putting up some numbers, as well. Coleman had 32 points and 19 rebounds last week against Wichita State and followed Wednesday night at Florida Atlantic with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
As a result, the Roadrunners have bounced back from an 0-2 start, getting to 2-2 as they prepare to face the 49ers.
“I think we’re coming off two good wins,” Love said. “We started a little slow. But I think we needed that to find a place to pick, to build on. We’re in a good space right now. We’re just building. It’s all positive energy.”
One of the most remarkable aspects of UTSA’s 8-7 season to date has been the team’s resilience in competing without Jordyn Jenkins, the Player of the Year last season in Conference USA.
Jenkins, a USC transfer who averaged 20 points per game last season, hurt her knee last April in the offseason and is still rehabilitating.
That UTSA has continued to progress as a program speaks volumes about the heart of everyone suiting up today against Charlotte.
And, just for the record, Jenkins is in the arena with her teammates as she has been all season, but she isn’t expected to play against the 49ers.
“I like to call it bittersweet, because she’s such a great player,” Love said. “We would do nothing but elevate if we had her on the court. But without her, it’s made people step up and realize that we all need each other.
“We all have to play for each other,” Love said. “We have to be big on the court in certain moments when we need to be big. I just think it’s made the team better, and when she comes back, it’ll be just that much better for everybody.”
South Florida at UTSA, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.