By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
Forward Jordyn Jenkins registered another double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds Saturday as the UTSA Roadrunners notched a signature victory, knocking off the defending Conference USA champion Charlotte 49ers, 64-50.
Center Elyssa Coleman added 16 points and eight rebounds for the UTSA women, who snapped out of a three-game losing streak and, in the process, downed the 49ers for the first time since 2014.
The Roadrunners (4-11, 2-4) played a smothering 2-3 zone defense and held the visitors to 31.1 percent shooting. The 49ers (7-8, 3-3) were led by guard Dazia Lawrence, who scored 13 points.
But nobody else hit double figures on the day for the C-USA champs, who were limited to 19 of 61 shooting from the field. The zone also worked to limit the 49ers from getting to the free throw line.
They were only five of eight on free throws, compared to 15 of 16 for UTSA. Roadrunners players expressed both satisfaction and relief that they were able to beat the 49ers, an NCAA tournament entry last year.
“We’ve been trying to get over the hump,” Coleman said. “We’ve been losing every game, like, by less than 10, this whole season. So to beat the last conference champion, that means a lot.”
In 2021-22, Charlotte not only had the best record in the conference, but it also swept through the C-USA tournament to win the postseason crown.
“Today was a good win for us,” said UTSA freshman Madison Cockrell, who scored a career-high nine points off the bench. “It got us back on our feet. So, excited for our next game on Monday.”
The Roadrunners open a three-game road swing at Rice University in Houston on Monday. The trip will also take the team to Florida, where it will play at Florida Atlantic on Thursday and at FIU in Miami on Saturday.
With the victory over Charlotte, UTSA improved to 4-2 at home. At the same time, the team has yet to win away from the Convocation Center.
In nine games away from the Convo, the Roadrunners are 0-9, which includes an 0-7 record in true road games and 0-2 on neutral courts.
Seemingly every time UTSA plays away from home, the fouls start to stack up, and the opponent gains an upper hand.
It even happens at home, on occasion, as evidenced by Coleman’s showing Wednesday night against the UTEP Miners. The Miners won 74-67, with the 6-foot-3 sophomore on the bench most of the night.
She eventually fouled out with only two points and three rebounds in 18 mintues. Against the 49ers, she picked up two quick ones in the first quarter and sat down for the rest of the half.
In the third quarter, Coleman turned the tables. She scored eight points and drew a couple of fouls on the 49ers, which she converted into four for four at the free-throw line.
“I was in foul trouble in the first half, which I was trying not to do since I fouled out last game,” she said. “But, things happened. I warmed up on the bench, got my time in the second half and then just did what I needed to do.”
Coleman said she knew she had to stay mentally engaged even while she was just watching.
“You can’t just sit at the end of the bench and go sulk,” she said. “You have to still stay engaged, hype up the people on the floor so they can make a difference.”
Fortunately for UTSA, Jenkins caught fire in the second quarter, scoring 13 points on a variety of shots — inside and out.
For the second straight game, she was rolling, and when it was over, she emerged from her week’s work with a combined 60 points and 22 rebounds against both UTEP and Charlotte.
While Jenkins has been putting up all-conference type numbers all season, only recently has Cockrell, a freshman from Dallas Bishop Lynch, started to play well.
Even though she didn’t score against the Miners, she made an impact with her defense, and then against the 49ers, she did it on both ends of the floor.
Against Charlotte, she knocked down three 3-point shots, including two in the second half, when the Roadrunners kicked the lead up to as many as 22 points.
Afterward, she seemed to delight in talking about her teammates.
“We played amazing today,” she said. “Off the court, everyone came in at shootaround with the right mindset. It was just a great day all around.”
Cockrell hinted that attitude might have been the difference between winning and losing against the 49ers. After a disappointing loss against the Miners, players kept their heads up.
“We did,” she said. “We took (the loss to UTEP). It happened. That’s what it was, and we bounced back today and came back a lot better. Stronger. Harder. Everything.”
Charlotte 7-8, 3-3
UTSA 4-11, 2-4
UTSA at Rice, Monday, 7 p.m.
— Jerry Briggs (@JerryBriggs) January 14, 2023
Charlotte has dominated the C-USA series against UTSA ever since the teams started playing in 2014. The Roadrunners won the first meeting in 2014, but the 49ers won the next seven times through last season. Last January, the 49ers romped to a 58-33 victory against the Roadrunners in San Antonio.
Talking about employing a zone defense, Aston said, “Realistically, we were just doing everything we could to keep those guards (Dazia Lawrence and Jada McMillian) out of the paint. They are really, really good.”
Three days after scoring 37 points at home against UTEP, forward Jordyn Jenkins exploded for 13 of her 17 points in the second quarter against Charlotte, lifting the Roadrunners into a 34-20 halftime lead.
On one end of the floor, UTSA played 2-3 zone to frustrate Charlotte. The Roadrunners, with the junk defense, held the 49ers to nine points in the second quarter and 27.6 percent shooting for the half.
On the offensive end, UTSA kept going to Jenkins, who hit six of 12 shots from the field and five of five at the free throw line in the half. Sidney Love added seven points on two of five shooting.
— Jerry Briggs (@JerryBriggs) January 14, 2023