Perez, Carpio power the FIU Panthers past the 22nd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners, 6-1

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Noel Perez hit a home run and started a key double play from third base Sunday for the FIU Panthers, who claimed a 6-1 victory in Miami and knocked the 22nd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners out of first place in Conference USA.

In the finale of a C-USA series, Ruben Carpio added a solo homer as the Panthers bounced back from two losses to the Roadrunners. UTSA won 22-8 on Friday night and then hung on to claim a 9-8 victory in a game that started Saturday and ended Sunday morning.

As the Panthers were finally getting over the hump in Game 3 of the series, the Dallas Baptist Patriots were on a day off and were moving into first place ahead of the Roadrunners in the C-USA race.

The Patriots, who swept Louisiana Tech at home in a three-game series that ended Saturday, improved to 31-9 on the season and to 15-3 in the C-USA.

They’ll take into the new week a school-record 14-game winning streak, including 11 in a row within the conference. Meanwhile, UTSA dropped to 30-10 and to 14-3.

The Roadrunners, who remain on a school-record pace for victories in a season, have one less game on their conference ledger because of a rainout in Charlotte on April 8.

Coming up

Houston Christian at UTSA, Tuesday, 6 p.m.
UTSA at UAB, three-game C-USA series starting Friday


UTSA 30-10, 14-3
FIU 16-24, 4-14

C-USA leaders

Dallas Baptist 15-3, 31-9
UTSA 14-3, 30-10

Coming up

Houston Christian at UTSA, Tuesday, 6 p.m.
UTSA at UAB, three games, Friday through April 30

Miller, UTSA hold off FIU 9-8 to clinch a C-USA series on the road

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

Relief ace Simon Miller and the 22nd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners survived a ninth-inning scare Sunday morning, forcing a ground ball to the mound for the final out in a 9-8 victory over the FIU Panthers in Miami.

The teams started play early Saturday afternoon but had to leave the field in the evening because of a weather delay. Ultimately, the game was suspended in the seventh inning Saturday night, with the Roadrunners leading 9-6.

With the re-start taking place on Sunday morning, the Panthers seized the opportunity to stage a comeback, and they almost pulled it off. They scored twice in the eighth inning and had the potential tying run at third and winning run at second in the ninth, before Miller retired Mike Rosario to end it.

Ruger Riojas (4-0) was awarded the victory after pitching 3 and 1/3 innings to the point that the game was suspended on Saturday night. Miller worked the final 2 and 2/3 for his eighth save. For Pat Hallmark, the win was his 100th in four seasons as coach of the Roadrunners.

UTSA won the opener of the series Friday night, 22-8. With the two victories, the Roadrunners have clinched the series and have maintained a hold on first place in Conference USA. The teams are scheduled play the third game of a C-USA series after a scheduled half-hour break.

Coming up

UTSA at FIU, Sunday, 11 a.m. (central time)


UTSA 30-9, 14-2
FIU 15-24, 3-14

C-USA leaders

UTSA 14-2, 30-9
Dallas Baptist 15-3, 31-9

Game recap

The second game of a Conference USA baseball series resumed Sunday morning at 9:15 (central time) in Miami, with Simon Miller on the mound for the UTSA Roadrunners. With UTSA leading 9-6, one out and nobody on base, Adrian Figueroa stepped into the box for the FIU Panthers. Figueroa grounded out and Henry Wallen flied out to end an inning.

UTSA came to bat in the top of the eighth against lefthander David Eckaus. Eckaus retired the first two batters before yielding a single to Leyton Barry. He steadied himself and struck out Taylor Smith. In the bottom half, with Miller starting his first full inning, FIU opened with an infield single by Roney, and then Perez reached on an error by Roadrunners second baseman Leyton Barry.

At that point, Miller struck out Rosario. But FIU continued to battle, with Dante Giarardi reaching on an infield single, loading the bases. Miller fanned Alec Sanchez for the second out, bringing up Ruben Carpio, who had five hits against UTSA in the last two days. Carpio promptly singled through the right side for two RBIs, with Giarardi going to third.

With Miller working to Guida and the Roadrunners’ lead trimmed to 9-8, a ground ball force out ended the inning.

Emboldened, FIU’s Eckaus worked to the heart of UTSA’s batting order in the top of the ninth. It didn’t take long for him to strike out Antonio Valdez, Matt King and Caleb Hill. As a result, the Roadrunners took the field in the bottom half, with the Panthers trailing by a run but feeling some momentum. It was Miller’s job to shut it down.

Figueroa, the first batter, struck out. Drama ensued as Miller walked Henry Wallen, putting the tying run aboard. Brendan Roney promptly singled to right, moving Figueroa to third. With Noel Perez at bat, Roney stole second. But Miller got tough, fanning Perez for the second out. Mike Rosario stepped to the plate with the potential tying run at third and the winning run at second. Rosario grounded to the pitcher for the final out of the game.

The Roadrunners survived.

Game suspended because of weather with UTSA leading FIU 9-6 in the seventh

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

After more than an hour of weather-related delay, the second game of the Conference USA baseball series between the UTSA Roadrunners and the FIU Panthers in Miami has been suspended.

The game will re-start on Sunday morning at 9:15 a.m. (central time), with the Roadrunners leading the Panthers, 9-6, according to a tweet from the FIU baseball program’s Twitter feed. The Panthers will be at bat with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The third and final game of the series will start 30 minutes after Game 2’s completion. UTSA won the first game, 22-8, on Friday night.

On Saturday, the Roadrunners jumped out to leads of 4-1 and 6-3 before the Panthers scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie it.

In the sixth, UTSA responded with a three-run rally to make it 9-6. Garrett Poston, who hammered a solo homer in the second inning, delivered a two-run double in the uprising.

Poston’s three RBIs give him seven in the two games in Miami thus far.

Coming up

UTSA at FIU, Sunday at 9:15 a.m. (completion of Game Two)
UTSA at FIU, Sunday, 30 minutes afterward


UTSA 29-9, 13-2
FIU 15-23, 3-13

C-USA leaders

UTSA 13-2, 29-9
Dallas Baptist 15-3, 31-9

Game recap

The FIU Panthers gave the ball to righthander Jackson Ritchey, while the UTSA Roadrunners went with righty Drake Smith in Game 2 of a C-USA series in Miami.

In the top of the first inning, Ritchey came out strong and wild. While he walked one, he struck out three to keep the Roadrunners off the board. FIU opened the bottom of the first against Smith with consecutive singles by Mike Rosario, Dante Girardi, Alec Sanchez and Ruben Carpio to take a 1-0 lead. Smith retired Ryne Guida on a foul pop and fanned Adrian Figueroa, leaving three baserunners stranded, to end the threat.

UTSA exploded in the top of the second inning with four runs on three homers. After Caleb Hill opened the inning with a walk, Sammy Diaz hit a two-run blast to left field. One out later, Garrett Poston pulled a ball to right field for a solo home run. Not to be outdone, Leyton Barry hit a two-out solo shot to the opposite field in left for a 4-1 UTSA lead.

In the bottom of the second, FIU responded with inning-opening singles by Craig Palidar and Noel Perez. After Smith steadied himself to strike out Rosario and Girardi, Sanchez walked to load the bases. Carpio followed with a two-RBI single to left, trimming the UTSA lead to 4-3. With two runners on, Guida flied out to left to end the inning.

FIU went to the bullpen after two innings and brought in Kevin Martin, who held the explosive Roadrunners scoreless through the third and the fourth innings. In the bottom of the fourth, the Roadrunners lifted Smith for Ruger Riojas. Smith finished his day’s work with three innings, three runs allowed, seven hits and one walk. He also struck out six. Riojas gave up a hit in the bottom of the fourth but kept the Panthers off the scoreboard.

Panthers pitching walked a couple and committed a throwing error in the top of the fifth as UTSA scored twice. First, Martin walked Leyton Barry and Barry moved up on the error by Martin. After Valdez walked, both runners moved up when Daniel McAuliff fired a wild pitch. Barry and Valdez both scored on a ground ball by King for a 6-3 UTSA lead.

Undeterred, the Panthers came out strong against Riojas in the bottom half. Consecutive singles against the UTSA freshmen by Carpio, Guida and Adrian Figueroa produced one run. With two out, Noel Perez ripped a two-run single to tie it, 6-6. The inning ended when UTSA catcher Sammy Diaz threw out Perez at second trying to steal.

Did UTSA flinch at the adversity? Not hardly. McAuliff opened the top of the sixth by walking Diaz and Dalton Porter, and then Poston broke up the tie game with a two-run double to right center. The outburst prompted FIU to lift McAuliff for lefthander Ryan Cabarcas. Pinch hitter Isaiah Walker bunted Poston to third base, and then Leyton Barry brought him home with an RBI single and a 9-6 lead for the Roadrunners. The rally continued as Taylor Smith singled, but Cabarcas escaped further trouble by retiring Antonio Valdez and Matt King.

Responding to the momentum, Riojas blanked the Panthers in the bottom of the sixth. Giving up only a two-out single to Sanchez, he fanned Carpio — his second strikeout of the inning — to send the game to the top of the seventh with the Roadrunners, looking for their second win in two days in Florida, leading by three runs.

In the bottom of the seventh, Riojas starts his fourth inning and gets an out. But action is halted at that juncture when officials cleared the field for a lightning delay. A tough break for both teams but especially for the Panthers, who are swinging the bats well. They have outhit the Roadrunners 13-7 and have punched out 31 hits in the first two games of the series.

Dallas Baptist update

The Dallas Baptist Patriots set a school record with their 13th and 14th straight victories Saturday afternoon when they downed the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 11-3 and 10-5 in Dallas in a Conference USA doubleheader. The Patriots have won 11 in a row in conference.

UTSA-FIU notes

UTSA routed FIU 22-8 in Friday’s series opener. The team’s 22 runs and 21 hits were both season highs for a road game. The totals ranked second overall to 31 runs and 25 hits on March 11 in a 31-6 victory at home over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Grand slams by Taylor Smith and Matt King were the first this season for the Roadrunners. Smith’s six RBIs were a season high for the senior from Georgetown. His three hits tied his season high. King’s four hits and five RBIs tied season highs for the the sophomore from Kingwood Park. King has had five RBI games twice since April 14.

Fireworks: Smith, King, Poston spark UTSA to a 22-8 victory over the FIU Panthers

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Taylor Smith and Matt King delivered grand slams in a 21-hit attack for the UTSA Roadrunners, who stormed to a 22-8 Conference USA victory over the FIU Panthers Friday night in Miami.

Smith produced six RBIs, King had five and Garrett Poston four for the 22nd-ranked Roadrunners, who bounced back from a Tuesday-night home loss to non-conference rival Texas State and won going away in the opener of a three-game C-USA series.

FIU opened early leads of 1-0 and 3-2 on the C-USA leaders before UTSA’s offense came to life. The Roadrunners scored in five straight innings and capped the streak with a 10-run seventh.

UTSA also improved to 29-9 on the season and to 13-2 in the C-USA, remaining a half game ahead of the second-place Dallas Baptist Patriots.

C-USA newcomer Dallas Baptist won at home, beating Louisiana Tech 9-1, to extend its winning streak to 12 games. DBU has won nine in a row on its C-USA schedule.

Coming up

UTSA at FIU, Saturday at 4 p.m. Also, Sunday at 11 a.m.


UTSA 29-9, 13-2
FIU 15-23, 3-13

C-USA leaders

UTSA 13-2, 29-9
Dallas Baptist 13-3, 29-9


Shane Sirdashney, Isaiah Walker and Tye Odom were not in the starting lineup for UTSA. The three have been battling injuries.

Game recap

Utilizing a double and two singles, the Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second against UTSA’s Luke Malone. Ryne Guida got the rally started with a double down the left field line. Henry Wallen’s two-out RBI single brought home the first run of the game. FIU left runners stranded at first and second when Malone struck out Noel Perez to end the threat.

The Roadrunners answered against FIU’s Angel Tiburcio with two runs in the third. Sammy Diaz led off with a single. With one out, Leyton Barry slapped a single to left field and Taylor Smith walked. Antonio Valdez, the next batter, singled to right for two RBIs and a 2-1 lead for the Roadrunners.

Undeterred, the Panthers jumped on Malone again in the bottom half with a game-tying leadoff homer from Mike Rosario. Dante Girardi followed with a hit and Alec Sanchez bunted to put runners at first and second. With one out, Guida delivered an RBI double to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead. Malone worked out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out Wallen and Brendan Roney to end the threat.

Even though the damage could have been worse, a decision loomed for UTSA coaches on Malone, who had thrown 60 pitches and yielded seven hits to that point.

The Roadrunners, playing from behind, continued to attack in the top of the fourth. Matt King led off with a double and moved to third on a fly ball by Dalton Porter. Sammy Diaz hit an RBI single to make it a 3-3 ball game. UTSA didn’t stop there, as Garrett Poston and Leyton Barry singled to load the bases.

Taylor Smith, the team’s home run leader, took advantage of the base-loaded opportunity with a grand slam. At that point, UTSA was rolling again, leading 7-3. It was Smith’s 10th home run of the season. FIU’s Tiburcio, however, steadied himself and retired Antonio Valdez and Josh Killeen to end the uprising and the inning.

For Malone, who entered the game with a 2.40 earned run average, it wasn’t his best start of the season. But the bottom of the fourth might have been one of his more gutsy moments this spring. FIU had him on the ropes again with a couple of one-out singles. In response, he got tough, retiring Sanchez on a pop fly and Ruben Carpio on a ground ball. UTSA had held FIU scoreless for the first time since the first inning.

In the top of the fifth, Tiburcio didn’t make it to the end of the inning. The Roadrunners loaded the bases with a single, a walk and a hit by pitch. At that point, FIU pulled its starter and replaced him with CJ McKennitt. UTSA’s Garrett Poston promptly greeted McKennitt with a two-RBI single, making it 9-3. Taylor Smith struck out swinging to end the inning, but not before the Roadrunners increased their totals to 11 hits.

To this point, the narrative to this point for the Roadrunners revolved around the resilience of Malone, plus an offense that came alive behind Smith, a transfer from Texas A&M, and Poston, who entered the game with a .181 batting average and delivered with two hits in three at bats and a couple of RBIs. Malone worked smoothly through the bottom of the fifth, retiring three straight.

For the Panthers, the game turned a little ugly in the sixth. McKennitt walked three and fired a passed ball as UTSA scored three runs for a 12-3 lead. Poston emerged to punish the Panthers again with a run-scoring single. Poston, a utility player who’s manning right field tonight against FIU, has produced three hits and four RBIs.

Going into the bottom half of the sixth, the Roadrunners started out with Malone and then inserted Ryan Ward.

Malone had one of his more adventurous outings, throwing 101 pitches and 61 of them for strikes. In completing five and 2/3 innings, UTSA’s ace starter yielded five runs on 10 hits. The last one was a two-run homer by Girardi that pulled FIU to within 12-5. Keeping the rally going, FIU tagged Ward with a couple of hits before Guida struck out looking to end the threat.

In the seventh, the Roadrunners tagged the Panthers for 10 runs on eight hits. The big blow was a grand slam by Matt King. After it was over, UTSA held a 22-5 lead.

First-place UTSA opens second half of conference play on the road against FIU

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

If the 22nd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners can play the second half of their Conference USA schedule the way they played the first half, they could be in line for a regular-season title.

First-place UTSA opens a three-game series in Florida on Friday afternoon against the FIU Panthers. Catcher Josh Killeen says it’s important for players at this juncture to get their rest and watch their nutrition.

“Right now it’s focusing on staying healthy as a team,” Killeen said. “Right now, we have a few people who are banged up. A few people that are a little sick. I was sick a little bit last week.”

The key to sustaining the success, Killeen added, is “just kind of staying healthy and taking care of our bodies and eating right and continuing to improve on the field.”

A few injuries in the outfield are a concern leading into the FIU series. At Wednesday’s media session, coach Pat Hallmark said he thinks Isaiah Walker will make the trip but that Shane Sirdashney would not.

Tye Odom, who played through a back problem on Tuesday night against Texas State, also may not be 100 percent. Neither Walker nor Sirdashney played Tuesday night in a 5-3 loss to the Bobcats.

Third baseman Antonio Valdez said he’s happy with the team’s performance thus far, but not totally satisfied.

“I know there are some games we wish we could have back, but there are some games we’ve been fortunate to come out on top, so it’s been a good vibe,” he said.

Positioning in the NCAA ratings percentage index will be something to monitor in the coming weeks because it is one tool used by the national selection committee to determine at-large bids.

As of Friday morning, surging Dallas Baptist leads the 10 teams in Conference USA with an RPI of 16, followed by UTSA at 36.

The Patriots have notched victories over Oklahoma (on the road) and Oklahoma State and Baylor (both at home) since March 21. Most recently, they have won 11 in a row overall and eight straight in conference.

To cap the eight straight C-USA victories, Dallas Baptist has won three in a row at home against UAB and, most recently, three in a row on the road at Florida Atlantic.

At 28-9 overall and 12-3 in the C-USA, Dallas Baptist hosts the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs this weekend, with the opener set for Friday night. UTSA enters the FIU series in Miami at 28-9 and 12-2.

Coming up

UTSA at FIU, Friday, 5:30 p.m. Also, Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m.


UTSA 28-9, 12-2
FIU 15-22, 3-12

Conference standings

UTSA 12-2, Dallas Baptist 12-3, Charlotte 9-5, Louisiana Tech 9-6, Middle Tennessee 8-7, Florida Atlantic 7-8, Rice 6-9, WKU 4-11, UAB 4-11, FIU 3-12

RPI leaders in conference

Dallas Baptist 16, UTSA 36, Charlotte 54, Florida Atlantic 62, Rice 113, Louisiana Tech 133, Middle Tennessee 164, UAB 198, WKU 216, FIU 217.

UTSA in the polls

Baseball America, 22nd. D1 Baseball, 25th. Collegiate Baseball, 25th. National College Baseball Writers, 28th.

Jenkins sets UTSA season scoring record as Roadrunners win third straight game

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA women's basketball beat Florida International 85-79 for Senior Day on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jordyn Jenkins scored 33 points against Florida International for a UTSA women’s basketball record of 587 in a single season. Tammy Rogers established the previous record of 583 in 1990-91. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special For The JB Replay

Senior Day for the UTSA women’s basketball team started with a pre-game ceremony honoring Hailey Atwood, Queen Ulabo and Deb Nwakamma, who all were playing for the last time at the Convocation Center.

It ended with even more emotion, with fans standing and cheering, as Jordyn Jenkins set the school record for points in a season en route to the Roadrunners’ third straight victory, an 85-79 win over the FIU Panthers.

Karen Aston. UTSA women's basketball beat Florida International 85-79 for Senior Day on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Karen Aston has led her team to three straight victories and a 6-3 record in the second half of the C-USA schedule, with one to play. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Perhaps more significantly from a big-picture standpoint, UTSA took another small step toward respectability as a program, clinching a winning record in the second half of the Conference USA regular season.

With a 6-3 record in the second half, UTSA can do no worse than 6-4 as the regular-season finale at Charlotte looms on March 2. It’s a notable achievement for a group that looked lost at times in November and December.

“Once they got their wheels rolling (today) they looked as energetic and competitive as they did the day they beat Rice, which seems like eons ago,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said.

In her comments, Aston referenced a Feb. 16 home game in which the Roadrunners muscled past the Rice Owls, one of the better teams in the conference, 66-53.

Perhaps not coincidentally, it was the start of a 4-1 stretch for a UTSA team playing perhaps as well as anyone in the C-USA.

Aston, joined by Atwood and Jenkins in the postgame news conference, talked about how everyone played the way she has always wanted them to play.

“I mean, I’m just super proud of their competitive spirit today,” Aston said. “They kicked in, in the second half, and we had so many players make plays.”

Trailing by nine against the Panthers in the second quarter, the Roadrunners started the comeback. They cut it to four at intermission and then came out strong after the break.

Kyra White. UTSA women's basketball beat Florida International 85-79 for Senior Day on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Guard Kyra White scored 10 of her 22 points in a third-quarter surge for the Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Kyra White scored 10 and Jenkins had eight in the third quarter as UTSA took the lead. Siena Guttadauro nailed a three with three seconds left in the period, igniting the crowd and giving UTSA a 68-61 advantage going into the fourth.

The Roadrunners had allowed quite a few leads to slip away late in games during times of uncertainty in November, December and January, but it was not happening against FIU, as UTSA continued to attack on offense.

Jenkins, in particular, seemed intent on slamming the door on the Panthers.

In doing so, she led the Roadrunners with eight points in the final stanza, not only cementing the victory, but also etching her name in the school record books.

Her game-high 33 points boosted her season total to 587, which moved her past the previous record of 583 by 1980s and ’90s-era star Tammy Rogers.

Rogers, a guard, had held the record since the end of the 1990-91 season. When Aston asked for clarification on what record was broken, she was informed that it was the record for points scored in a season and that it was 32 years old.

“Wow,” Aston said. Looking at Jenkins, who was still in her No. 32 jersey, the coach added, “That’s your number.”

At that, Jenkins smiled. “Pretty cool,” she said.

Apparently, only a few people at press row knew that Jenkins was closing in on the record as the fourth quarter started. Jenkins said she had no idea.

Hailey Atwood. UTSA women's basketball beat Florida International 85-79 for Senior Day on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Honored in the pregame as one of the team’s three outgoing seniors, guard Hailey Atwood scored 13 points in 27 minutes. She said the energy from all her teammates on this day will likely be her favorite memory. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“Whenever they announced it in the huddle (late in the game) and people started cheering and Kyra was, like, ‘yea,’ and everyone was like, ‘yea, Jordan,’ I was like, ‘What?’ But, then they told me a little bit after.”

For Atwood, the game was especially meaningful. In two years at UTSA, she has seen some hard times. An injury that slowed her last season. A losing record last year and a poor start to this year, as well.

She said her favorite memory of her last home game at UTSA probably will be the energy of her teammates.

“There were a lot of things we were playing for,” Atwood said. “Not only was the team playing for the seniors, but we were also playing for our 10th win of the season. That was also very important. Our third win in a row. You know, we got two wins in a row last game against FAU and this is the first time this season that we got three games, back to back (to back).

“So, all three of those things were very important for us today, and I think it was very memorable for us. We were down (to FIU) at first, and we just rallied back together. We wanted to win, so I think that was very memorable.”

Aston acknowledged the significance of turning the corner, from a 2-8 record in the first 10 games of the C-USA schedule, to a 6-3 team heading into Charlotte.

“Now we’re playing people for the second time,” she said. “When you take a look back and see … I mean, we look so dramatically different. We look so much more confident and sure, and that’s just part of the process of bringing in eight new (players), and everyone learning a new system. It’s the process of five freshmen growing up.

“It’s process of people accepting roles. I mean, I’m excited. This is one of those kind of situations where you don’t want it to end, because you’re trending upward. (Players) are getting it, just getting it, and you want to play as long as you can play when this starts happening, so I’m excited for the next game.

“I think some light bulbs have really come on for this team, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.”


UTSA 10-18, 8-11
FIU 12-15, 7-11

Coming up

UTSA at Charlotte, March 2, 5 p.m.

C-USA tournament

March 8-11, at Frisco


FIU — Mihaela Lazic, 15 points on five triples. Tanajah Hayes, 15 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals. Ajae Yoakum, 10 points, eight rebounds. Kaliah Henderson, 10 points.

UTSA — Jordyn Jenkins, 33 points on 14 of 19 shooting from the field. Kyra White, 22 points on 10 of 16 shooting. Also, five rebounds, six assists, three blocked shots. Hailey Atwood, 13 points on five of 12 shooting, including two triples. Also, three rebounds and two assists. Deb Nwakamma, three points, two rebounds. Queen Ulabo, three points, including one triple.

Deborah Nwakamma (left), Queen Ulabo and coach Karen Aston celebrate in the final moments. UTSA women's basketball beat Florida International 85-79 for Senior Day on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

As the fans cheer, seniors Deborah Nwakamma (left) and Queen Ulabo celebrate with coach Karen Aston near the end of a victory over the FIU Panthers. – Photo by Joe Alexander

No crying in basketball: UTSA’s Henson won’t make excuses for a 7-14 record

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah. Florida International beat UTSA 77-72 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Isaiah Addo-Ankrah returned to game action for the first time in more than a month and scored 12 points off the bench. The FIU Panthers held on at the end to win 77-72, handing the Roadrunners their sixth straight loss. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

With the UTSA Roadrunners riding a discouraging six-game losing streak, Coach Steve Henson declined to blame injury misfortune for his troubles. He easily could have, but he didn’t.

For the first nine Conference USA games on the schedule, Henson was without one of his best outside shooters, and over the past four, he was also missing his best inside scoring threat for two and his starting point guard for the next two.

In fact, it could be argued that with an athletic 7-footer playing exactly zero games all season because of academic and injury issues, UTSA hasn’t been whole at any point since the first ball was tossed up back in November.

Jacob Germany. Florida International beat UTSA 77-72 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany produced 19 points and 13 rebouinds against Florida International. He hit eight of 14 shots from the field, and six of his rebounds were on the offensive end. – Photo by Joe Alexander

All of it is true, but if you listen to Henson, the halfway point in the C-USA regular season is no time to start lamenting the injuries or dwelling on what might have been.

The coach insisted after a 77-72 loss to the FIU Panthers on Saturday afternoon that the Roadrunners simply need to keep their heads up and get back to work.

“There’s enough areas to be frustrated with,” Henson said. “That’s not one that I’m focused on. You start doing that, and it sounds like you’re looking for excuses. We’re not going to do that.”

Nevertheless, the loss to FIU dropped UTSA to 7-14 on the season and to 1-9 in conference play. UTSA is in last place in the C-USA with 10 games remaining, and Henson plans on coaching the players who are available, starting with a practice on Monday afternoon and then a game on Thursday night at North Texas.

“The other guys (that we have playing) are good players,” the coach said. “They’ve got the opportunity, so we’ve just got to do things better. We need to flow better offensively. We need to fight harder defensively, take better care of the basketball.

“Those are the things that I’m focused on.”

In an afternoon matinee at the UTSA Convocation Center, FIU sophomore Denver Jones scored eight of his team-high 27 points in the final 2:02 as the Panthers held on to snap their own four-game losing streak.

With the victory, FIU improved to 9-11 and to 3-6 in the C-USA. Trailing by 18 early in the second half, the Roadrunners charged to within five with 1:40 remaining. UTSA freshman guard DJ Richards hit a triple from the wing that trimmed the lead to 71-66.

Florida International coach Jeremy Ballard. Florida International beat UTSA 77-72 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Florida International coach Jeremy Ballard applauded his players for playing hard after losing by 20 points at UTEP on Thursday night. – Photo by Joe Alexander

From there, UTSA forced a missed shot and had a chance — if it could pull down a defensive rebound — to set up for an opportunity that might cut the lead to three or even two points. FIU reserve center Seth Pinkney, however, had other ideas. He snared a key offensive rebound to stop the momentum.

With new life, FIU got the ball to Jones, who subsequently went to the free-throw line with 50.5 seconds left and hit both ends of a one-and-one. His two clutch makes lifted the Panthers into a seven-point advantage. UTSA couldn’t get closer than five the rest of the way.

Fifth-year FIU coach Jeremy Ballard said it felt great to end the losing streak.

“It felt better than relief, because our guys put a lot of emotional preparation into this game, and we knew we didn’t play anywhere near the best version of ourself on Thursday (in an 81-61 loss at UTEP),” he said. “We really felt like that was in the posture that showed up in El Paso.

“So, it’s tough to win on Saturday on these (C-USA road) trips. In fact, this is the first one we’ve won since I’ve been here. We’re very excited. I was just proud of our spirit, how connected we were out there, and it showed with our play.”

In the big picture, the Panthers won the game with defense, limiting UTSA to 37.3 percent shooting. Specifically, they did a good job in holding Roadrunners shooting guard John Buggs III to 0 for 10 from the field.

Center Jacob Germany, in his second game back after sitting out two with a concussion, led the Roadrunners with 19 points and 13 rebounds off the bench.

Richards, from the Houston area, finished with 18 points. He hit five of 11 from beyond the three-point arc.

Steve Henson. Florida International beat UTSA 77-72 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson says he won’t use injuries as an excuse for a six-game losing streak and a 1-9 record in Conference USA. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Another bright spot was forward Isaiah Addo-Ankrah, who returned from a left wrist injury that had kept him out for nine games and more than a month. A right-handed shooter, he hit two threes and scored 12 points in almost 20 minutes of playing time.

Addo-Ankrah described the mood in the locker room as “a little down.”

“We’re angry, tired of losing,” Addo-Ankrah said. “We know we should have won that one today. We just didn’t execute on some possessions. It only comes to — what did we lose by, five? — we only lost by two possessions. It’s just the little things that we could have done better.”

Point guard Japhet Medor, UTSA’s leading scorer, sat out for the second-straight game with a sprained right foot. Medor suffered the injury in Wednesday’s practice, and on Thursday night, he missed his first game of the year.

He tried to practice Friday and discovered that he could run in a straight line, and that he could also back-pedal, but that he had trouble moving from side to side. So, he remained in the walking boot on Saturday.

UTSA will monitor him closely next week to see if he can play at North Texas.

It was a tough week all the way around for the Roadrunners. Without Germany, they lost to Rice, 88-81, in overtime on Monday. Even with Germany back, they dropped an 83-64 decision to 24th-ranked Florida Atlantic on Thursday as Medor sat on the side, his foot in a boot.

Finally, they fell too far behind FIU on Saturday (by 18 early in the second half) and, without Medor again, just couldn’t catch up. Even with the losses, the worst of the week for Henson might have been news that he thought he might get a few days ago but never did.

DJ Richards. Florida International beat UTSA 77-72 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman guard DJ Richards pumped in 18 points for his 13th game of the season in double figures. He’s averaging 11 points and 4.7 rebounds. – Photo by Joe Alexander

He was expecting to hear from the NCAA on the eligibility status of 7-foot center Carlton Linguard, Jr., and he still has not heard a word, so the waiting game continues.

In the meantime, Linguard is trying to get healthy. He’s made it through a knee injury. Now he’s trying to make it through rehabilitation from a concussion, hoping to start full-contact soon — perhaps next week.

“Last several days he has not been doing anything in contact,” Henson said. “He can do all the skill work, all the shell offense, the offense dry. Pre-practice, ball handling, he can do all of that. We’ll see how he responds Monday and Tuesday and maybe get him back in there full speed by Tuesday or Wednesday, hopefully.”

Even if Linguard gets healthy enough to play and is also cleared by the NCAA, a decision will loom as to whether he sees the floor this spring. Does he come back and play in the second half and burn a year of eligiblity?

If so, he would only have one year left to play for the Roadrunners. If he doesn’t play this spring, Linguard would have two years left.


FIU 9-11, 3-6
UTSA 7-14, 1-9

Coming up

UTSA at North Texas, Thursday
Louisiana Tech at UTSA, Jan. 28

Jones-led FIU downs UTSA 77-72 to snap a four-game losing streak

Sophomore Denver Jones scored eight of his team-high 27 points in the final 2:02 Saturday as the Florida International University Panthers snapped a four-game losing streak, downing the UTSA Roadrunners 77-72 at the Convocation Center.

Trailing by 18 points early in the second half, the Roadrunners put on a charge that brought them to within five with 1:40 remaining. Freshman guard DJ Richards hit a triple from the wing that trimmed the lead to 71-66.

From there, UTSA forced a missed shot and had a chance with a defensive rebound to set up for an opportunity that might cut the lead to three or even two points. FIU center Seth Pinkney had other ideas, however. He snared a key offensive rebound to stop the momentum.

Jones, subsequently, went to the free-throw line with 50.5 seconds left and hit both ends of a one-and-one, lifting the Panthers into a seven-point advantage. UTSA, in losing its sixth game in a row, couldn’t get closer than five the rest of the way.

In the big picture, the Panthers won the game with defense, limiting UTSA to 37.3 percent shooting. Specifically, they did a good job in holding Roadrunners guard John Buggs III to 0 for 10 from the field.

Jacob Germany led the Roadrunners with 19 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. Richards, from the Houston area, finished with 18 points. He hit five of 11 from beyond the three-point arc. Another bright spot was forward Isaiah Addo-Ankrah, who returned from a wrist injury that has kept him out for a month. He hit two threes and scored 12 points in almost 20 minutes.

Point guard Japhet Medor, UTSA’s leading scorer, sat out for the second-straight game with a sprained foot.


FIU 9-11, 3-6
UTSA 7-14, 1-9

Coming up

UTSA at North Texas, Jan. 26
Louisiana Tech at UTSA, Jan. 28

Following a freshman

Freshman Dashon Gittens came to the rescue for the FIU Panthers early in the second half. Just as the DJ Richards and the UTSA Roadrunners tarted to get back in the game, Richards hit a three-pointer and added a driving layup. At that point, the Panthers moved into a 58-47 lead with 12 minutes left in the game.

Richards, limited to one of six shooting in the first half, heated up for UTSA in the stretch by knocking down two triples.

Analyzing the first half

Employing fullcourt pressure on defense and shooting threes with regularity, the FIU Panthers have built a 43-31 lead on the UTSA Roadrunners. Petar Krivokapic has led the Panthers with 14 points on five of seven shooting from the floor. Krivokapic has knocked down four of FIU’s eight three-pointers.

The pressure has been trouble for the Roadrunners, who shot 30 percent from the field and turned it over seven times. Playing off the bench, Jacob Germany has led UTSA. The 6-foot-11 senior has 12 points and eight rebounds.

In the second half, the Roadrunners will need to get John Buggs III more involved. Buggs is scoreless on zero for six shooting. DJ Richards is also struggling, hitting only one of six. Isaiah Addo-Ankrah, in his first game back from a wrist injury, has scored four points in eight minutes.

Shooting from downtown

Krivokapic, a sophomore from Montenegro in Europe, is shooting the ball well in the first half. He’s knocked down four three-pointers and has scored 14 points. He came in averaging 5.6 points per game.

The Panthers have hit seven triples so far to build a 38-26 lead on the UTSA Roadrunners.

Sparking a surge

Sparked by Christian Tucker and the return of Isaiah Addo-Ankrah, the UTSA Roadrunners have raced off on a 13-2 run.

Tucker ignited the streak with a couple of steals. Addo-Ankrah, who hasn’t played in more than a month, missed his first shot attempt from three. But then he made a 10-footer and then punctuated it by clinching his fists and letting out a scream. The run brought UTSA to within three of FIU at 20-17.

Getting underway

Christian Tucker is UTSA’s starting point guard for the second straight game. UTSA just tipped off against Florida International, with Tucker, John Buggs III, DJ Richards, Aleu Aleu and Massal Diouf in the starting lineup.

Pressing full court and playing up-tempo, the Panthers have jumped out to an 18-9 lead. Petar Krivokapic and Javaunte Hawkins have knocked down two three-pointers apiece in the early going.

Tucker is starting for injured UTSA leading scorer Japhet Medor. In a surprise, Isaiah Addo-Ankrah just checked into the game. Addo-Ankrah has sat out the last nine games with a wrist fracture. He hasn’t played since Dec. 18 against Bethune-Cookman.


Still searching for a winning formula, the UTSA Roadrunners will reach the halfway point in the Conference USA regular season today.

They’ll play the 10th game of a 20-game C-USA schedule at 3 p.m., hosting the Florida International University Panthers at the Convocation Center.

Both teams are riding losing streaks, with FIU having dropped four in a row and UTSA five straight. For the Roadrunners, they’ve had a tough time lately with injuries.

Japhet Medor, Isaiah Addo-Ankrah and Carlton Linguard, Jr. all sat out an 83-64 home loss to 24th-ranked Florida International on Thursday night and are expected to be out again today, as the Roadrunners close a three-game homestand.

Medor’s injury is the most recent. He twisted his right foot in practice Wednesday, sat out Thursday night against FAU and is in a walking boot today. Addo-Ankrah has been out nine games in a row with a wrist fracture. It’s possible he could be ready for UTSA’s next game, Jan. 26, at North Texas.

Both Medor and Addo-Ankrah are regarded as starters, and Medor is UTSA’s most explosive player, leading the team in both scoring and assists.

Linguard must be cleared by the NCAA on an academic issue in order to play this season. Otherwise he will have two years of eligibility left starting next season. He has just recently started to practice after suffering a concussion in mid-December.

The former Stevens High School standout is on the floor today, engaged in warm-ups.

UTSA rallies to win 9-8 behind freshman pitcher Braylon Owens

UTSA reliever Braylon Owens got the win in Sunday's victory over Florida International at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Braylon Owens, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound righthander from Elgin, improved his record to 2-1 on the season as UTSA downed the FIU Panthers 9-8 at Roadrunner Field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Braylon Owens pitched 2 and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief on Sunday as the UTSA Roadrunners rallied to win 9-8 and complete a three-game Conference USA sweep of the Florida International Panthers.

Owens entered the game in the seventh inning. He allowed three hits and walked one, but he also made some big pitches in striking out two for the Roadrunners, who improved to 27-13 on the season and to 12-6 in the C-USA.

Jonathan Tapia delivered a solo home run and Ryan Flores added an RBI in the bottom of the seventh as the Roadrunners forged an 8-8 tie. After Owens held FIU scoreless in the top half of the eighth, UTSA made it 9-8 in the bottom half on a Garrett Poston RBI single.

Owens retired three straight in the ninth to nail down the victory, which improved UTSA’s record to 14-3 over its last 17 games. The Roadrunners are 10-2 in their last 12 in C-USA play.

Southern Miss leads the conference standings at 16-2, with UTSA and Louisiana Tech tied for second at 12-6. Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee tied for fourth at 11-7.

UTSA has a tough week ahead, hosting nationally-ranked Texas State on Tuesday and then traveling for a weekend series at Middle Tennessee.


UTSA 27-13, 12-6
FIU 11-26, 4-14

Coming up

Tuesday — Texas State at UTSA, 6 p.m.
Friday — UTSA at Middle Tennessee 6 p.m.
Saturday — UTSA at Middle Tennessee 3 p.m.
Sunday — UTSA at Middle Tennessee, 11 a.m.

UTSA stops a two-game skid with a 12-4 victory over FIU

Luke Malone pitched into the sixth inning Friday night as the UTSA Roadrunners ended a two-game losing streak, downing the FIU Panthers 12-4 in a Conference USA home game.

Malone gave up three triples and a double, but he stayed with it and earned the victory, improving his record to a team-best 6-1.

After losses to Rice and Texas State on the road, UTSA needed to gain some momentum going the other direction.

Malone, pitching 5 and 1/3 innnings, answered the call. He gave up six hits and three runs, with only one of them earned. The senior struck out five and walked none.

Ian Bailey and Garrett Poston homered for the Roadrunners.


UTSA 25-13, 10-6
FIU 11-24, 4-12

Coming up

Saturday — FIU at UTSA, 2 p.m.
Sunday — FIU at UTSA, 11 a.m.
Tuesday — Texas State at UTSA, 6 p.m.