UTSA women have excelled lately even when Jenkins struggles

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA women’s basketball team is built around junior forward Jordyn Jenkins, the Conference USA Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year.

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

C-USA Player of the Year Jordyn Jenkins played through foul trouble and scored 22 points in 25 minutes Thursday against Rice in the conference tournament quarterfinals. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Ask anyone why UTSA has been able to forge a 9-3 record over the past six weeks, after starting the season with 15 losses in 19 games, and you will hear all about Jenkins, the best player in the program since Monica Gibbs led the 2008 and 2009 teams to a pair of conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances.

Just this week, however, fans have started to realize that UTSA is not a one-woman show.

The Roadrunners have started to blossom into a team that can play championship-caliber basketball even when Jenkins isn’t on her game or is saddled with foul trouble. Just yesterday, Coach Karen Aston’s ball club pulled itself out of a 15-point deficit to win its second game in two days at the C-USA tournament, rallying to beat the Rice Owls, 62-54.

In victories over Florida Atlantic and Rice in the past two days, Jenkins has played only 21 and 25 minutes, respectively. When she was not on the floor, the team did not cave in as sometimes happened back in November and December. The team keeps playing. Thus, UTSA will play tonight in Frisco against the WKU Lady Toppers in the C-USA semifinals.

Here is a look at a few players not named Jordyn Jenkins who have elevated the team into one of the four still alive and vying for the C-USA title:

Freshman point guard Sidney Love

Sidney Love. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 77-61 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Sidney Love keeps the defense honest with her ability to drive to the bucket. She’s also cut down on turnovers drastically over the last four games. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Love is playing with confidence and doing what she does best, which is scoring. Utilizing her quickness and ability to dribble drive either to the right or left, the freshman from Steele High School hit eight of 16 shots from the field against Florida Atlantic and five of eight against Rice. She’s scored 33 points in the tournament, none more important than the 11 in the fourth-quarter comeback yesterday against Rice.

Junior guard Kyra White

Ms. Versatility is also one of the most competitive kids I’ve ever seen. White handles the ball, distributes, plays defense, rebounds. Everything. Even with a shaky first-half performance against Rice, she pulled herself together and continued to play hard in the third and fourth quarters. She even got a few shots to go down. Looked to me like she just willed it to happen, and it did.

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

Kyra White produced nine points, eight rebounds and five steals against the Rice Owls. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore center Elyssa Coleman

The 6-foot-3 sophomore from Atascocita has 18 points, 17 rebounds and six blocked shots in two games at Frisco. Going back to the start of UTSA’s 9-3 push toward respectability, she’s been a defensive force. Not quite as fast as Jenkins, she can run the floor well and always causes problems for opponents driving the ball. Coleman isn’t always highly involved in the offense, but when she is, she seems to deliver. She was four of eight from the field against Florida Atlantic and four of 11 against Rice.

Guard Hailey Atwood

Hailey Atwood has emerged as Coach Karen Aston’s go-to defender against the opponent’s best perimeter threat. Atwood also brings a tremendous amount of energy. She started off slowly this year as she worked her way back in injury rehabilitation, but she is now entrenched as a valued starter. Other players in the rotation during the tournament have included Deb Nwakamma, Siena Guttadauro, Maya Linton, Queen Ulabo and a cameo yesterday by Madison Cockrell. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Kyleigh McGuire or Alexis Parker tonight against WKU, either.

Elyssa Coleman. UTSA beat Rice 66-53 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA sophomore Elyssa Coleman is a post player who made the C-USA’s all defensive team. — File photo by Joe Alexander


Looks to me like center Nissa Sam-Grant will be a solid contributor next year. She is 6-4 and can run pretty well. She’s a transfer who sat out all this season.

C-USA women’s tournament

Friday’s semifinals

No. 1 Middle Tennessee (26-4) vs. No. 4 UTEP (20-10), 4:30 p.m.
No. 2 WKU (18-12) vs. No. 6 UTSA (13-18), 7 p.m.

Saturday’s championship game

Friday’s winners, 4:30 p.m.

Making history: UTSA’s Jenkins wins Conference USA Player of the Year honors

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Junior Jordyn Jenkins has emerged as the first player from the UTSA women’s basketball program to earn Player of the Year honors in Conference USA.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 77-61 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA forward Jordyn Jenkins averaged a C-USA best 21.1 points per game. – File photo by Joe Alexander

In announcing postseason honors Tuesday afternoon, the C-USA also listed Jenkins as Newcomer of the Year and all-conference first team. In addition, her teammates Elyssa Coleman made the C-USA’s all defensive team and Sidney Love was named to its all freshman team.

The Roadrunners picked up three awards in men’s basketball, with Jacob Germany and Japhet Medor being named all conference honorable mention, while D.J. Richards made the all freshman team.

Jenkins led the C-USA in scoring (21.1) en route to lifting the team to a sixth seed in the tournament and a 7-3 record in the second half of a 20-game conference schedule.

She also led the conference in field goal percentage (49.4) while ranking second in rebounding (7.5) and fifth in blocked shots (1.2).

It is the third time in conference history that one player has earned both Player and Newcomer of the Year. SMU’s Keena May was the last player to do it in 2013. It’s the first time is the first time a Roadrunner has earned the C-USA Player of the Year since starting play in the conference in 2013-14.

Jenkins joined Loryn Goodwin as UTSA players who have earned Newcomer of the Year. Goodwin, a guard, achieved her honor in 2017.

In an interview with The JB Replay on Monday afternoon, Jenkins said she was happy with the way she played this season in her first at UTSA after transferring from Southern Cal.

Asked if she’d be disappointed if she didn’t win Player of the Year, she answered, “My whole life, I’ve never really been into awards. Probably because most of the time, I haven’t really got any.

“I’ve always been on the back of that,” Jenkins said. “You know, I’m grateful for whatever. It’s just about how you perform.”

During the same interview session, UTSA coach Karen Aston said, “I’ll be real surprised if she doesn’t get it. When you look at her numbers, they’re pretty staggering. Her performances have been worthy of the award.”

Taiwo, TCU women turn back the UTSA Roadrunners, 74-67

The TCU women’s basketball team knew it had been in a game Wednesday night after spending 40 minutes on the painted floor at Schollmaier Arena with the UTSA Roadrunners.

Playing at home in Fort Worth, the Horned Frogs held the Roadrunners to four of 15 shooting in the third quarter to take control of the proceedings, en route to a 74-67 victory.

Tomi Taiwo’s fourth 3-pointer of the game with 4:30 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Frogs a 12-point lead. The Roadrunners never got closer than six the rest of the way.

Saddled with foul trouble early, Jordyn Jenkins led the Roadrunners with 16 points. Elyssa Coleman had 12 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. Off the bench, freshman Siena Guttadauro scored 11 and Deb Nwakamma 10.

Kyra White, playing point guard most of the night for the Roadrunners, had a solid all-around game with eight points, five assists and four rebounds.

Taiwo had 18 points and three steals to lead the Horned Frogs.

All told, it was a solid effort for the Roadrunners, who are two games into their second season under Coach Karen Aston.

The Roadrunners, despite foul trouble, played the Frogs of the Big 12 Conference on even terms in the first half. Guttadauro and Nwakamma each had eight points and a couple of three-pointers off the bench before intermission.

TCU led 23-16 after the first period and, after a competitive second period, held a 37-36 edge on UTSA. Playing better defensively, the Frogs boosted the lead to 54-47 entering the final quarter.


TCU 2-1
UTSA 0-2

Coming up

Abilene Christian at UTSA, Sunday, 2 p.m.

With Coleman and Jenkins, UTSA frontcourt shows promise

Elyssa Coleman at UTSA women's basketball practice at the Convocation Center on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore center Elyssa Coleman averaged 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds last season. Coleman produced 21 points and 11 rebounds in a C-USA tournament victory over UTEP. – Photo by Joe Alexander

When the UTSA women’s basketball team first stepped on the floor to work out together this summer, the potential for a dynamic frontcourt presence showed up almost immediately.

Elyssa Coleman, a 6-foot-3 center, moved well in the low post and exhibited the ability to overpower opponents with her back to the basket. Newcomer Jordyn Jenkins, a 6-foot forward, came at the defense from all directions.

Kyra White and Jordyn Jenkins

Kyra White (left) and Jordyn Jenkins transferred from Southern Cal to UTSA in the offseason. White played in high school locally at Judson. Jenkins, from Kent, Wash., received all-Pac 12 honors last season. — Photo by Joe Alexander

She was a shooter. She was a driver, and she could grab an offensive rebound and stick it back with good touch. Remarkably, two players with so much potential, playing for the UTSA Roadrunners?

In a way, it was sort of hard to believe.

The Roadrunners hadn’t had a winning record in women’s basketball in seven years, and yet here they were, practicing in a frontcourt tandem that looked as if it could hang with the best in Conference USA and perhaps against many teams in the nation.

For background, both players started their college careers at high major programs, Coleman at Texas and Jenkins at Southern Cal. Both came to UTSA to play for head coach Karen Aston. Coleman is in her second season with the Roadrunners, while Jenkins is in her first, after joining the team a few months ago.

How good will they be? How will their talents mesh? The answers may be a key to the success of the team this year. Coleman said at a UTSA media session earlier this week that she’s “super excited” about the prospect of playing with Jenkins, an all-Pac 12 talent.

“I think we’re getting there,” Coleman said. “Jordyn plays really, really fast paced, which is what I’m used to. We kind of had to slow it down last year because our team wasn’t there yet. But coach Karen teaches the same fast-paced ball, so I think it’s meshing pretty well.”

In Aston’s offense, Coleman is expected to play at the center position and Jenkins mostly at power forward.

“I think it’s going to be good,” Jenkins said. “She works hard and she’s strong and she’s a dog (as a fierce competitor). I think it’ll be good once we develop some more chemistry and get our passes going. I think we both catch and throw each other good passes. So, once we get our flow going, we should be good.”

Coleman offered a more colorful description about the twosome’s potential.

“That’s a scary, scary sight,” Coleman said. “That’s what I’m going to say. That’s a very scary sight with both of us down low. Not just us, but everybody coming off the bench. But for us, as a duo, that’s very scary. I’m really excited to see what we can do.”

Jenkins averaged 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds last year at Southern Cal before she entered the transfer portal in the spring.

“I just wanted something better for myself,” she said. “I just felt like coming here was going to make me better physically and mentally. There’s a lot of support here and a lot of people care about you. (They) constantly give you high fives, keep you up.

“You know, it’s a tough lifestyle to be a student-athlete and wake up at 6 every day. You’re not going to be up for it every day. Just to have people care about you and ask how you’re doing. That’s really what you need.”

Jenkins’ has known Aston for years.

As a former head coach at Texas, Aston recruited Jenkins out of Kentridge High School in Kent, Wash. But when Jenkins entered the portal last spring, UTSA was just one of the schools in pursuit of her talents.

“I knew I needed to go somewhere, where it wasn’t just about me as a basketball player, that it wasn’t just about my talent,” Jenkins said. “I think in talking to coach Karen when I was in the portal, she was worried about who I was and how I was doing as a person. Because we know the stats. The stats don’t lie. They’re on paper. They’re online.

“But you get a coach that goes all out for you, you know?”

With that, Jenkins did not finish the thought, but her meaning was clear. After making the move, she’s comfortable with her surroundings. At USC, she gained valuable experience, playing in 41 games with 35 starts over two seasons.

Last season, she led the Trojans in both scoring and rebounding. She also hit 51.7 percent from the field — one of the best accuracy marks in the nation — and 82.1 percent from the free-throw line. Coleman, by contrast, had more modest success in her first season on the court in NCAA Division I.

The former standout at Atascocita High School in the Houston area averaged 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds. Coming off a year in which she sat out rehabilitating a knee injury, she started slowly and then picked up the pace last February and March.

In a C-USA tournament game against UTEP, Coleman showed out with 21 points and 11 rebounds. As a result, the Roadrunners upset the Miners 58-57 in overtime and reached the quarterfinals, where they fell to the third-seeded Old Dominion Monarchs, 65-45.

Coleman said she feels good physically right now, ready to go.

“Honestly, I feel like I’m in a good state physically,” she said. “I felt like I was in a good state last year, but it was mostly like a mental thing. I feel like I’m in a good space all the way around right now.”

Coleman committed to the Texas program during Aston’s last season in Austin. For the former prep star, the transition from high school to college was a whirlwind. After signing with the Longhorns, UT elected not to renew Aston’s contract in April 2020. Her new coach, Vic Schaeffer, came on board but she never really got to show the new staff what she could do.

She blew out her knee in a practice that summer, a month into the team’s workouts, all of which led to surgery in August 2020.

“That was Covid time,” she said. “Just got out of the pandemic. Just got into college. It was really scary for me. My support system wasn’t the best there. I grinded, for myself. Then once I got here and I had the people around me — it really does take a village — and I was fine.”

Coleman was traveling with the Longhorns in the 2021 NCAA tournament when something caught her attention. She saw online that Aston had been hired at UTSA.

“Once I was in the transfer portal, it was a no brainer,” she said, noting that she passed on offers from Wake Forest and Arizona State, among others. Last year was a struggle for the Roadrunners. Nobody was happy with a 7-23 record, but Coleman is optimistic about the team’s chances going into her second season.

Coleman said the chemistry is good right now considering eight new players on the roster. “Chemistry?” she asked. “Honestly? With the same timeline as last year, we’re way ahead, chemistry wise. I feel like everybody likes each other. It’s just going to be a matter of playing with each other.

“I feel like everybody is in a good spot with each other. We’re pretty close.”

UTSA beats UTEP in overtime in C-USA women’s tournament

Trailing by 13 points late in the first quarter, the UTSA Roadrunners kept plugging away and eventually edged the UTEP Miners 58-57 in overtime Tuesday in a Conference USA women’s basketball tournament opener.

With the victory, UTSA advanced to the next round to play Old Dominion on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

UTSA entered the tournament as the seventh seed in the C-USA West. Old Dominion is seeded third in the East.

Redshirt freshman Elyssa Coleman led the Roadrunners with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Graduate student Jadyn Pimentel had 14 points, six rebounds and six steals. Junior Charlene Mass hit the second of two free throws with three seconds left for the victory.

Junior Destiny Thurman scored 23 for the Miners, who were seeded sixth in the East.


UTSA 7-22, 3-14
UTEP 14-15, 6-12

Coach Karen Aston secures her first victory at UTSA

Karen Aston won her first game as coach of the UTSA Roadrunners Sunday afternoon at the Convocation Center, and all she could talk about afterward was what the victory meant for her players.

“I don’t have any personal satisfaction,” she said. “This is about them.”

Building an eight-point lead at halftime and a 10-point spread after three quarters, UTSA held on down the stretch to knock off the UIW Cardinals, 66-60.

It’s been almost a calendar year since the UTSA women last won a game, so that was what was most meaningful to Aston, a former coach at Texas.

“It’s huge,” Aston said. “It’s huge for them. This is a business where you go to practice every day and … (you) try to do the right thing. You want them to get the rewards for that, and they don’t always come. So when you do get them, you want to celebrate.”

Freshman center Elyssa Coleman, a transfer from Texas who is coming off two knee surgeries, led the Roadrunners with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 post hit 6 of 10 shots from the field

Another transfer, LaPraisjah Johnson, added 14 points and hit several key free throws in the final few minutes. San Antonio’s Charlene Mass had 14 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds.

The Roadrunners had not won a game since last Dec. 15, at home, against Northwestern State, La., and Mass, a junior from Veterans Memorial High School in the Judson school district, admitted that it feels good to end the drought.

“It’s just the epitome of what we want to do for this program,” she said. “We’re just going to continue to work hard, stay humble and grind.”

For the Cardinals, guard Destiny Jenkins put on a show with some long-range shooting. Jenkins knocked down five 3-point baskets, including a few of them off the glass, in scoring 21 points.


UIW 1-3
UTSA 1-3

Coming up

Nov. 28 — at Minnesota