By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay
The UTSA women’s basketball team has a dual mission tonight — make amends for a poor performance earlier this season and keep alive its late-season push in the Conference USA standings.
Surprising UTSA is 4-3 in its last seven games going into tonight’s home test against the struggling Florida Atlantic University Owls. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.
Last month, the Roadrunners traveled to Florida and got swept in a two-game C-USA road series, losing at FAU 81-66 and at Florida International, 51-48. A week later, on Jan. 26, they returned home and dropped another close game to North Texas, 54-51.
After losing to the Mean Green, UTSA dropped to 4-15 and 2-8 in the conference.
Since then, the ball club has caught a tail-wind, winning four out of seven games, including victories over Louisiana Tech (on the road), Middle Tennessee and Rice (both at home) and North Texas (on the road).
As a result, the Roadrunners have improved to 8-18 on the season and 6-11 in the C-USA.
The latest victory may have been the most dramatic. Playing in Denton on Monday night, UTSA squandered a nine-point fourth quarter lead before riding Jordyn Jenkins to a 68-67 decision over North Texas in overtime.
In boosting veteran coach Karen Aston to the 300th victory of her career, Jenkins hit 12 of 20 shots from the field, including three of five from 3-point distance. The 40-point showing not only was her career-high, but with 11 rebounds, she also notched her ninth double-double of the year.
If history is any indication, FAU could be a problem tonight for UTSA despite Jenkins’ talents. The Owls dominated the Roadrunners last month, with guard Aniyah Hubbard lighting it up for 21 points. The 5-8 guard also had four rebounds, three assists and four steals.
Defensively, the Owls were effective, holding the Roadrunners to 31 percent shooting. They also out-rebounded the visitors, 27-21. The margin wasn’t that much, but it was one of the few times during the conference schedule that an opponent out-rebounded UTSA.
Lately, FAU has fallen on hard times, losing four straight, dropping the Owls to 12-13 and 5-11, a half game below the Roadrunners in the C-USA standings. Right now, UTSA is ninth in the standings and FAU 10th.
All 11 C-USA teams qualify for the C-USA tournament next month in Frisco, but, generally the higher a team can finish in the regular season, the easier it is to win games and advance.
It’s likely that UTSA will need to win four games in four days to win the C-USA title and make the 64-team NCAA field.
FAU 12-13, 5-11
UTSA 8-18, 6-11
FAU at UTSA, Thursday, 7 p.m.
FIU at UTSA, Saturday, noon
UTSA hasn’t won as many as nine games in a season and six games on its conference schedule since the 2017-18 season, when the Roadrunners finished 9-21 and 6-10…Jordyn Jenkins, a UTSA newcomer after transferring from Southern Cal, is 55 points shy of the school record held by Tammy Rogers.