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)

UTSA women host Rice tonight to open a busy five-day stretch

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA women’s basketball team will open a critical late-season stretch of three games in five days starting Thursday night at home against the Rice Owls.

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

Karen Aston’s UTSA Roadrunners hope to build on the success of their last home game, a five-point victory over Middle Tennessee State, the No. 1 team in Conference USA. – File photo by Joe Alexander

After tonight, the Roadrunners will hit the road for two, one on Saturday in Alabama against the UAB Blazers and another on Monday in Denton against the North Texas Mean Green.

In facing the Owls, the Roadrunners will try to make amends for a game that they let get away from them on Jan. 16 in Houston.

UTSA built an eight-point lead after the first quarter and led by as many as 10 before Rice, now in fourth place in Conference USA, engineered a second-half rally to win, 78-76.

The Roadrunners, sitting in 10th place in the 11-team standings, have been and up-and-down team lately.

Against the Owls, they’ll try to keep alive a sense that they are making steady progress and can present a danger to any team that comes into their home arena at the Convocation Center.

In their last game at home, all C-USA candidate Jordyn Jenkins and the Roadrunners knocked off the first-place Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, 58-53.

Jenkins, a 6-foot junior, had 20 points and 16 rebounds on Feb. 4 as UTSA registered an upset victory over Middle Tennessee — the No. 21-ranked team in the nation at the time.

The Lady Raiders, who are trying to nail down the No. 1 seed in the C-USA tournament with a little more than two weeks remaining on the schedule, became the highest-ranked upset victim by a Roadrunners’ women’s basketball team in 42 years.

UTSA, coming off the signature victory, had a week after the game to prepare for its next outing and couldn’t capitalize.

In a game played at El Paso last Saturday, the Roadrunners stayed close against the UTEP Miners, trailing by three at halftime. Subsequently, UTEP blew it open, outscoring UTSA 29-7 in the third quarter en route to a 79-52 victory.

Given that the Rice game is the first of three in less than a week for UTSA, it’s importance is magnified, in the sense that only six games remain in the regular season.

After the season, all 11 teams — women and men — will gather in Frisco for the C-USA’s annual postseason event, which is set for March 8-11 at The Star. The winners will earn automatic bids to their respective NCAA tournaments.

The top five teams in the C-USA standings will have an advantage in that they will have a first-round bye, meaning that they will only need to win three games in three days to secure the postseason crown and the coveted NCAA berth.

The others, seeded six through 11, will need to win four games in four days. All that is why the game tonight is critical for Rice, currently in fourth place in the C-USA, with a one-game lead on Louisiana Tech and Charlotte.

Though UTSA isn’t out of contention for one of the top five spots, it would likely need win most — if not all — of its final six games to get one.


Rice 17-6, 8-6
UTSA 6-17, 4-10

Coming up

Rice at UTSA, Thursday, 7 p.m.
UTSA at UAB, Saturday, 1 p.m.
UTSA at North Texas, Monday, 6:30 p.m.
Florida Atlantic at UTSA, Feb. 23, 7 p.m.
Florida International at UTSA, Feb. 25, noon
UTSA at Charlotte, March 2, 5 p.m.


Tonight, UTSA athletics is hosting its first Pride Night, which will include special giveaways to fans and also recognition of various groups, including the San Antonio Pride Committee, the LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Governors of Human Rights Campaign Board and Pride San Antonio.