UTSA women set to host Northern Colorado in the Postseason WNIT

Karen Aston. UTSA beat Charlotte 81-80 in double overtime in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Third-year UTSA coach Karen Aston has guided the program to its first berth in a national tournament in 15 years.- File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

For the first time since 2009, the UTSA women’s basketball team will play in a national postseason tournament.

The Roadrunners learned Sunday that they had been accepted into the Postseason WNIT. By Monday afternoon, it came to light that they would tip off the tournament at home. They’ll host the Northern Colorado Bears on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

To put it in perspective, most of the Roadrunners were in grade school the last time the program played beyond a conference tournament.

“I think I was seven and on the playground,” center Elyssa Coleman said.

Division I women’s basketball programs all over the country start offseason workouts in the summer in hopes of earning a bid to the 68-team NCAA Tournament, the most prestigious of all postseason destinations.

Beyond that, the 32-team WBIT is considered the next best destination, followed by the 48-team WNIT. Programs need to post winning records to be eligible, and the Roadrunners qualified on that front at 17-14, including 10-8 in the American Athletic Conference.

Last week, in the AAC tournament at Fort Worth, the Roadrunners won in the quarterfinals against South Florida and then lost by one in the semifinals to the East Carolina Pirates.

Even though the loss knocked UTSA out of contention for the AAC’s automatic bid to the NCAAs, UTSA coach Karen Aston says the WNIT invitation is “a huge step” for her program.

“The biggest reason that you play and you train, and (put in) all those hours starting in June is that you have a chance to experience postseason,” Aston said. “I know our players were a bit disappointed in how the conference tournament ended, a game that we thought we let get away, and it’s been kind of hard to get ’em out of that doldrum.

“But I think the excitement of knowing that they earned a chance to play in postseason is a big deal to them.”

It’s also a big deal for die-hard fans, who haven’t seen the Roadrunners in a national tournament in March since both the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

Both years, UTSA lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament, meaning the team has a chance to make history with a victory that would be the program’s first.

Aston applauded UTSA athletic director Lisa Campos for putting up the bid to host a game.

“You know, that’s why I came here,” she said. “Because I think Dr. Campos is extremely committed to the whole athletic program. I think she’s committed to basketball. I think that she wants us in our program to grow, and this is a growth step..

“I told the players yesterday, as disappointed as I know they were in the outcome of the conference tournament, this is a required step.

“It is a step where you hang a banner and we get to look at that banner all year next year and know that, you know, we’ll remember the reasons why we didn’t make the NCAA. Those are required (steps). Some of our freshmen, their seasons last year (in high school) ended in the first of February and mid-March.

“That’s a good month’s experience that you have to have so that you know what it feels like.”

For most of the past decade, the Roadrunners were a sub-.500 program, in one stretch registering single-digit victory totals for five straight years. In 2020-21, the Roadrunners finished 2-18 and 0-14 in Conference USA.

Aston took over in 2021-22 and guided the team to a 7-23 record. Last season, with Jordyn Jenkins and Kyra White transferring in from Southern Cal, UTSA improved to 13-19. This year’s 17-win total is the most for the program since the 2008-09 team won 24 games.

White, a UTSA senior from Judson, said “it means everything” to help raise the standard of play.

“It’s just a testament to everybody in this gym right now,” she said. “From last April until now, just putting in the work, grinding day in and day out, and honestly just not taking no for an answer.”

Coming up

First round: Northern Colorado at UTSA, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
Second round: Northern Colorado-UTSA winner vs. Wyoming, date and site TBA


Northern Colorado 15-15
UTSA 17-14

First-place Mean Green to test Roadrunners’ homecourt magic

Kyra White. UTSA beat Abilene Christian 76-70 on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2022, at the Convocation Center in the Roadrunners' first women's basketball home game of the season. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Senior Kyra White has stepped up the intensity in her last six games, averaging 12.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists during that stretch. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The race for the women’s basketball title in the American Athletic Conference has been turned upside down, in a sense, thanks to the efforts of the North Texas Mean Green.

Pegged for a 12th-place finish out of 14 teams in the AAC’s preseason poll, the Mean Green have surged into the lead nearing the halfway point of the regular season.

The UTSA Roadrunners will try to add their own special twist to the narrative when they host the Mean Green on Wednesday night at the Convocation Center.

“They play a lot of people and everyone they have that comes in (the game) has high motor,” UTSA guard Kyra White said Tuesday afternoon. “They defend. They run their offense well. They push it in transition and they rebound. They’re a very tough, competitive team, and we’re going to have to bring it … to compete with them.”

Led by first-year coach Jason Burton and transfer DesiRay Kernal, who has been touted as a conference Player of the Year candidate, the Mean Green (17-3, 7-1) have won seven in a row and have registered a record of 15-2 since Nov. 16.

The Roadrunners (10-9, 4-4) had been pretty hot themselves, winning four straight, including wins over Charlotte and South Florida. But then they stumbled in their last two, both on the road, falling to the UAB Blazers and the SMU Mustangs.

SMU poured it on UTSA late in the game last Saturday afternoon in Dallas, running away for a 78-55 victory.

“Your confidence always wavers a little bit when you lose,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said. “There’s no question about that. It’s higher when you’re winning.

“But I do think we like playing at home … We’ve enjoyed the home crowd. I’d like to think we’re going to show up and compete against a really good team tomorrow.”

UTSA played two of its best games of the season in its last two at at the Convocation Center.

Against Charlotte, on Jan. 14, the Roadrunners went into double overtime and downed the 49ers 81-80 behind freshman Idara Udo and her career-high 26 points and nine rebounds. It was Charlotte’s first conference loss. Two days later, the Roadrunners held the defending regular-season champion South Florida Bulls to 21 percent shooting and romped to a decisive 65-42 victory.

UTSA is undefeated at 3-0 at home in conference this year and 5-2 overall.


North Texas 17-3, 7-1
UTSA 10-9, 4-4

Coming up

Tulane at UTSA, Sunday, 2 p.m.


UTSA forward Jordyn Jenkins practiced five-on-five, full court, with contact on Tuesday, a sign that she is getting healthier. Jenkins, the 2022-23 Conference USA Player of the Year, didn’t appear to be at full speed but she did play on the scout team. The 6-foot forward hasn’t played in a game yet this season after injuring a knee in the offseason, last April. No decision has been made on whether she will try to play in games this spring.

Former Judson High School standout Kyra White has been on quite a run over the last six games, a stretch in which she has produced 76 points, 52 rebounds and 41 assists.

Freshman Aysia Proctor has emerged as one of the most pleasant surprises of the season for the Roadrunners, averaging 10.1 points on 47.6 percent shooting from the field. The former Clemens High School athlete has notched eight double-figure scoring games, including a season-high 20 at Oregon and 19 at home against South Florida. Proctor scored nine points at UAB and four against SMU …

North Texas hasn’t won a conference title in women’s basketball since 1986, which was also the last time that that it reached the NCAA tournament.

Burton worked for nine seasons at Texas A&M-Commerce before taking the North Texas job. He previously served as an assistant at Texas State. Kernal also played last year in A&M-Commerce’s first season in NCAA Division I as a member of the Southland Conference.

Shooting 54.6 percent from the field, the 6-foot forward is averaging 17 points and 7.9 rebounds with the Mean Green. Six-foot-two Tommisha Lampkin (15 points, 7.2 boards) and guard Jaaucklyn Moore (10 points) are also major players for the Mean Green. Moore once played at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.

UTSA women start fast this fall in wake of ‘painful’ summer workouts

Maya Linton. 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

Sophomore forward Maya Linton produced a double double with 15 points and 10 rebounds in a Nov. 18 victory at UT Arlington, She is shown here in action last season against the FAU Owls. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

One of the hottest summers on record in San Antonio added an extra layer of adversity to offseason training for the UTSA women’s basketball team.

UTSA forward Maya Linton says that the morning workouts, held both indoors and outdoors, were competitive with players split into two teams.

“It was very bittersweet because it was painful at the time — and it was hard,” Linton said. “But if you look back you say, ‘Hey, we really needed that to succeed right now.’ ”

Lately, the proof is in the results.

Playing without their best player, injured forward Jordyn Jenkins, the Roadrunners have opened the season with a 4-2 record leading into Thursday’s 5 p.m. home game against the Texas State Bobcats.

In addition, UTSA is 3-2 on the road in that stretch, matching the team’s road win total for all of last season. At Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the Roadrunners rallied from a 15-point, third-quarter deficit to win in overtime.

At Sam Houston State, last Saturday afternoon, UTSA fell into another hole, falling behind by 11 at the end of the third period. Kyra White and Sidney Love keyed a 30-point fourth-quarter as the Roadrunners pulled it out, 63-56.

“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, by any means,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said. “Obviously, with plugging in new lineups and new players and getting to know how they’re going to react to game situations, it’s been a work in progress and it still is.

“But I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m surprised. I wish that we would get off to better starts and not dig holes like we have in a couple of games. But that’s part of being on the road, I think.”

Aston said in the weeks leading into the season that her players had a chance to experience some growth with Jenkins out of the lineup. As it has turned out, post players such as Elyssa Coleman, Idara Udo and Linton have all stepped up to play significant roles.

“There’s no question that opportunity presents itself all the time,” the coach said. “I say this a lot in basketball, and I guess in life it kind of applies, that windows open and they close. What you do with the opportunity and what you do with your time when a window does open, it’s important.”

While Udo has filled in the gaps in the rotation on the front line, another freshman, guard Aysia Proctor, has emerged to supply some timely offense. Proctor is shooting 61 percent from the field.

“We’ve had some freshmen contribute heavily,” Aston said. “I’ve said this all along that the players that returned have improved in some areas that they needed to. We’re still absolutely a work in progress just because we are really young. When you look at who comes off the bench, it’s pretty much all freshmen and sophomores.”

UTSA’s only two losses have come against Power 5 competition, losing by 15 at Arizona State on opening night and by five at Texas Tech last week. Linton said she is excited about the way the team has performed.

“I think we’re more determined to be a unit this year than we were last year,” she said. “So I feel like winning all these games at the beginning of the season, it’s a different look for us, and we’re excited about our future and to be back at our home.”

Linton, a sophomore from Duncanville, had a big game with 15 points and 10 rebounds in a four-point win at UT Arlington. She scored six points in the final three minutes of the first half just as the Mavs were making a push.

Referencing the comeback wins in Corpus Christi and Huntsville, Linton credited the Roadrunners for staying together even when they aren’t playing well.

“Like I say, I think we have a certain unity,” she said. “We just have a connection. It’s like we never have a feeling that, ‘Oh, this time we’re going to lose.’ It’s always a positive, like we’re going to win, no matter what. I think there’s more of a fight this year, and it definitely shows with our record.”


The UTSA women are off to their fastest start since the fall of 2012 when they were 5-1 after six games. In 2012, all of the early victories were at home, and one of them came against a sub-Division I level program.

UTSA went on to finish 16-14 in 2012-13, in its one and only season in the Western Athletic Conference.

This fall, all six of UTSA’s games have been contested against D-I opponents. Like in 2012, the Roadrunners are set to play this season in a new conference – the American Athletic Conference — after 10 seasons in Conference USA.

Sophomore Sidney Love leads the Roadrunners in scoring at 13.3 points and also leads the AAC in free-throw percentage (87.9).

Senior Kyra White, who ranks second in the AAC in minutes played at 36 per game, is enjoying a standout season by averaging 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds. She’s also averaging 3.7 assists (tied for sixth in the conference) and 1.2 steals.

Junior Elyssa Coleman averages 8.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and a conference-leading 2.3 blocks. Coleman has played six games with six starts in the post, with Linton (6.7 points, 6.2 rebounds) playing six and starting five.

Idara Udo (5.8 points, 7.0 rebounds) and Aysia Proctor (8.0 points, 5.0 rebounds) have emerged as players making a significant impact in their first years out of high school.

Surging UTSA women to challenge Texas Tech in Lubbock

Sidney Love. UTSA beat New Mexico State 58-55 in women's basketball on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA has won three in a row and two straight on the road. Sophomore Sidney Love is leading the team in scoring, averaging 12.5 coming into tonight’s road game in Lubbock against the Texas Tech Lady Raiders, a member of the Big 12 Conference. UTSA hasn’t won a game against a power conference opponent since 2010. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

Winning three of four games by double-digit proportions, the undefeated Texas Tech Lady Raiders haven’t been seriously challenged as they prepare to play a fifth straight home game in Lubbock, this one against the upstart UTSA Roadrunners tonight.

Tipoff between Tech (4-0) and UTSA (3-1) is set for 6 p.m.

In winning a couple of games by more than 40 points, another by 17 and one by seven, Jasmine Shavers, Bailey Maupin, Jordyn Merritt and Co. have been on cruise control since they played their first game on Nov. 7.

Sure, the Lady Raiders have yet to play a fellow Power 5 opponent, but their efficiency has been scary.

Coach Krista Gerlich’s team has averaged almost 80 points, and three of her starters — Shavers, Kilah Freelon and Ashley Chevalier — are shooting better than 50 percent from the field.

Despite the Lady Raiders’ high level of play, the Roadrunners are coming in with a solid base of confidence stemming from three straight victories, including two straight on the road.

Guards Sidney Love and Kyra White lead the Roadrunners. UTSA also has some size in Elyssa Coleman and Idara Udo to match up. White averages 37 minutes per game and contributes heavily on both ends of the floor. Love is coming off a career-high 26-point outing Saturday at UT Arlington.

One of the keys could be forward Maya Linton, who is fast improving on her game. Linton, a 6-foot sophomore, is known as a defensive stopper. But she also has started to look more at the basket and only two nights ago had 14 points and 10 rebounds against the Lady Mavs.

If the Roadrunners win tonight, it would be a major accomplishment from a historical perspective. The UTSA women’s basketball program hasn’t won a game against a P5 conference opponent since 2010 when it defeated Kansas State, 72-55.

Since then, the Roadrunners have lost 20 in a row to teams from the five major revenue-producing conferences. Under coach Karen Aston, in her third year at UTSA, the Roadrunners are 0-5 against the so-called power programs, including 0-1 this year following a 70-55 loss at Arizona State on opening night.


UTSA 3-1
Texas Tech 4-0

Coming up

UTSA at Sam Houston State, Saturday, 4 p.m.

Texas Tech season review
All games at home in Lubbock
Nov 7 – UT Rio Grande Valley, W, 95-53. Jasmine Shavers produces career-tying 26 points, seven rebounds.
Nov 10 – Tarleton, W, 70-63. Jordyn Merritt has 18 points, two three-pointers.
Nov 13 – Lamar, W, 61-44. Jasmine Shavers, 16 points.
Nov 17 – Texas A&M-Commerce, W, 91-45. Tech surges to 29-0 lead and cruises; Kilah Freelon, 14 points, 11 rebounds.

Ninja-tough UTSA women brace for new season as Jenkins continues rehabilitation

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

When I first walked into the UTSA Convocation Center today, I sensed some really strange vibes. I looked down on the baseline, and I could see that Roadrunners women’s basketball coach Karen Aston was wearing a Halloween costume. Her shirt was bright green, with a splash of gold on the front. For added flair, she was wearing red wrap-around glasses of some sort.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA beat Charlotte 60-54 in a Conference USA women's basketball game Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Slowed by an offseason knee injury, UTSA forward Jordyn Jenkins declined to speculate on when she might be ready to play. But she said she is feeling good and working hard in individual drills on the court. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Immediately, I thought the glasses might be goggles, and that she might have assumed some SpongeBob SquarePants-type alter ego. Not true, as it turned out. Officials confirmed that Aston was dressed as a ninja turtle. And not just any ninja. She was ninja sensation “Raphael,” a movie character who apparently never met a slice of pizza that he didn’t like.

Which I guess explains the slice of pepperoni pizza hanging off the front of the coach’s shirt.

As if any other craziness was necessary, Aston’s costume came complete with a plastic green and gold mask, though the coach didn’t wear it during the workout. After practice, I knew I needed to talk to her, because, well, how often do you get a chance to interview a successful Division I women’s basketball coach rocking a turtle mask?

But first, I approached star forward Jordyn Jenkins, to ask her opinion of the coach’s Halloween schtick.

Smiling, Jenkins explained that the coaches showed up last year dressed as the ‘Minions,’ of mini-movie fame. This year, she added, the Halloween silliness morphed into a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” theme. Smiling, she said, “I expect nothing but greatness from them.”

Expectations for the Roadrunners this year? Well, it’s time we started breaking it down, because on Wednesday night they’ll host the St. Mary’s University Rattlers in their one and only exhibition this fall. The preseason game will be played in advance of the regular-season opener scheduled for Monday night at Arizona State.

Jenkins, rehabilitating a right knee injury, likely won’t play in either the exhibition or the opener.

As reported in this space on Sept. 11, she suffered the mishap in postseason workouts in April and then underwent surgery. Officially, last year’s Conference USA Player of the Year is expected to be listed as “week to week” going into the Arizona State game, without any sort of estimate on when she can return.

Asked if she had a goal in mind on when she’d like to return, Jenkins declined to specify any point on the schedule, saying only that she doesn’t want to rush it.

Though she isn’t yet practicing with the team, Jenkins said she is doing well physically. “I’m kind of just dealing with an injury that I had in the offseason,” she said in her first public comments since taking up the rehabilitation process. “Rehab’s been good. Been working hard. Been on the court a lot. You know, just trying to keep it up.”

Elaborating, she said she’s working on offensive skills primarily and trying to stay sharp. “I’m moving around good and I feel good,” she said. “You know it’s just about getting shots up.”

Last year, Jenkins averaged 20.6 points and 7.5 rebounds. In tallying a school record 659 points, the 6-foot native of Kent, Wash., went on to become UTSA’s first Player of the Year in Conference USA. She was also Newcomer of the Year and first-team, all conference. Previously, she had played two seasons at USC and made the all-Pac 12 team in 2022.

As a team, the Roadrunners started slowly last fall and winter but came on strong in February and March to become a force, going 9-4 down the stretch and winning twice in the C-USA postseason.

Jenkins was a big part of all that, scoring in the 30s three times during the season, and hitting a season-high 40 at North Texas on Feb. 20. But even if she isn’t in the lineup immediately this fall, UTSA is talented at several positions and could be competitive in a November schedule that also includes a game against New Mexico State at home, followed by a string of road tests at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UT Arlington, Texas Tech and Sam Houston, and then another home game against Texas State.

To start fast, UTSA will need Elyssa Coleman and guards Sidney Love and Kyra White to play well. They’ll also need help from the likes of forwards Maya Linton, Kyleigh McGuire, Idara Udo and Cheyenne Rowe to step up and play steady basketball in the position where Jenkins dominated last season.

“We seem a little more solid, a little more experienced, just more sure of what we’re doing,” Aston said. “So I think we’ll be better. Obviously, the elephant in the room is Jordyn not being available as early as we’d liked. So I think you have to take some shared responsibility.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a huge factor. It’s something that’s noticeable when you see our team play right now (because) we did play a lot through her. But at the end of the day, we’re going to grow from this. There’s no question. Players will take some more responsibility in different areas, so, it bodes well for the long run of the season.”

Entering the American Athletic Conference this season, UTSA has been picked eighth in the 14-team league, a development that doesn’t seem to have fazed Jenkins at all.

“Wherever we are (in the polls), we just have to look at it and do something about it,” she said. “I think we can be in a really good spot in conference. We just got to work hard and be consistent. It’s really about us. As long as we’re good, we can really do whatever we want, eight more places better.”

Jenkins didn’t mention anything like a ninja mentality. Or a coach inspired by the ninja legend, Raphael. But she said she has hopes that the Roadrunners have enough fortitude to make a run in the AAC in February and March.

“I think it could possibly take us a little bit (of time) to get things going at the beginning of the season,” she said. “We have a tough preseason schedule, and it’ll set us up to be really great. Once again, we’re young, and we have a lot of dogs (with toughness, on our roster). Once we have our energy and our chemistry working, we can be dangerous. Last year, we showed that a little bit.”

Under-rated? UTSA women picked to finish eighth in AAC preseason poll

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

Former Judson standout Kyra White played a key role in UTSA’s resurgence at the end of last year. Entering her senior year, she says she wants to see the team finish with a winning record and play into March. — Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA women’s basketball team is a bit of a mystery entering its first season as a member of the American Athletic Conference. Coach Karen Aston’s third team at UTSA is picked eighth out of 14 teams, according to the AAC’s preseason poll.

Last year, UTSA started slowly but finished strong and completed records of 13-19 overall and 9-11 in Conference USA. Aston’s team played well at the end, beat some of the C-USA’s top teams and won twice in the postseason tournament to reach the semifinals.

Based on the strong showing at the end and the fact that just about all of her players are returning, it was a bit of a surprise to see the AAC coaches pick them so low. But it may be because the jury is still out on Jordyn Jenkins, the Roadrunners’ top player, who suffered an offseason knee injury.

Because of the injury, her status is one of the unknowns going into the last month of practice, though the coaches did vote her onto the AAC’s preseason all-conference second team. In a televised interview Monday morning on ESPN Plus, UTSA coach Karen Aston addressed a variety of topics:

On Elyssa Coleman, the coach said the 6-foot-3 junior from Atascocita High School is growing into a leadership role.

“She’s three years into my system now and she really understands what my expectations are. Part of that is relationship,” Aston said. “You have a relationship with someone that goes back a long way and they trust you. She’s just become an anchor for us. Her shot blocking ability is really good.

“She’s become much better offensively just through growth. But I think if I had to say one thing, it’s that she committed to us, to helping us move the needle in the program, and she has stayed committed to that. That’s been the most valuable to us.”

On Jenkins, the coach was asked about how a power forward coming out of Conference USA as Player of the Year did not receive that type of recognition in the AAC’s preseason awards.

“People didn’t necessarily, I would say, maybe respect what she did last year,” Aston said. “Or recognize (it), so to say. But she’s enormously talented. I mean, there’s no question about it. I’m excited about seeing what we do with Jordyn this year. I’m excited for her. She’s one of those types of players — and I’ve had several — that really loves the gym. She has a passion for the game, and she’s really a joy to coach.”

On how it takes time for young players to communicate on defense:

“There’s not a magical tool for that one,” Aston said. “They grow into that. For example, I have a sophomore point guard (Sidney Love) who started for me last year as a freshman. (Sidney) is a very talented player that has started to come into her own. Sidney, you can hear her voice a little bit this year. She started at the point all of last year. Probably never heard her more than twice. Now you’re starting to hear her more. It’s a maturity process.”

UTSA senior Kyra White was one of Aston’s players who traveled to Dallas for the media function. She talked to an ESPN reporter about the process of transitioning from the C-USA into the AAC.

Said White, “The experience has been really solid so far. Since we’ve got our core team back, it’s just (been) focusing on the next step, trying to find our identity on the floor. Whatever it is. Defense. Offensive rebounds. Running the floor in transition. Just focusing on the little things, to be productive and efficient in the conference this year.”

White, who played in high school at Judson, also was asked about goals. Both personally and for the team. White said she’d like to be all-conference and for the team to come out and post a winning record and keep playing in the month of March.

“For the team, we’d like to have an above .500 record and have some type of postseason play,” she said. “Obviously, the NCAA tournament is the main goal. But really, like I said, with this being my last year, just trying to get over that hump and being able to play in March anyway.”

Preseason Coaches’ Poll

1. South Florida (10) 166
2. East Carolina (4) 159
3. Rice 135
4. SMU 118
5. Memphis 115
6. Tulane 110
7. Tulsa 104
8. UTSA 75
9. Temple 72
10. Charlotte 62
11. Wichita State 53
12. North Texas 47
13. UAB 30
14. Florida Atlantic 28

x-First-place votes in parentheses

Preseason Player of the Year

Danae McNeal, Gr., G, East Carolina

Preseason All-Conference First Team

Amiya Joyner, So., F, East Carolina
Danae McNeal, Gr., G, East Carolina*
Madison Griggs, Gr., G, Memphis
Sammie Puisis, Sr., G, South Florida
Temira Poindexeter, Jr., F, Tulsa

Preseason All-Conference Second Team

Dazia Lawrence, R-Jr., G, Charlotte
Aniya Hubbard, So., G, Florida Atlantic
Malia Fisher, Jr., F, Rice
Aleah Nelson, 5th, G, Temple
Jordyn Jenkins, Sr., F, UTSA

UTSA women’s basketball prepares to enter the American with talent, depth and experience

UTSA coach Karen Aston. North Texas beat UTSA 51-48 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Karen Aston’s UTSA Roadrunners won nine of their last 13 games last season and executed a spirited charge into the semifinals of the C-USA tournament. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Three weeks away from the start of official fall practices, UTSA women’s basketball coaches are feeling pretty good about the talent, the depth and the experience on a team that will carry the school’s flag into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

“I think we’re in a better place than we were last year at this time,” third-year UTSA head coach Karen Aston said Monday “We had some carryover from people sticking around and not transferring.

Jordyn Jenkins. The UTSA women's basketball team lost to Louisiana Tech 62-57 in the Roadrunners' Conference USA opener on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Forward Jordyn Jenkins averaged 20.6 points per game in her first season at UTSA. Coach Karen Aston says the 6-foot power forward is rehabilitating an offseason knee injury. – File photo by Joe Alexander

“You know, we didn’t graduate a lot of kids. Hailey (Atwood) returned for us (as a graduate student). I think there’s just a little more carryover. We’re a little further ahead than we were this time last year.”

One issue looms with a question regarding the health of star forward Jordyn Jenkins. Aston said that Jenkins suffered a knee injury last spring that required surgery.

The coach declined to discuss the mishap in detail, other than to say that last season’s Conference USA Player of the Year was hurt in the offseason, in a March-April time frame.

Aston also declined to speculate on how far along Jenkins is in the rehabilitation process, with the season opener for the Roadrunners looming on Nov. 6 at Arizona State.

“We’re really disappointed for her,” she said. “She was in such a really good place. We’ll just see how she recovers.”

If Jenkins can return to form, the Roadrunners could have one of the most talented teams in school history.

In her first season at UTSA after transferring from Southern Cal, the 6-foot power forward captured the C-USA’s Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors by averaging 20.6 points (on 49 percent shooting) and 7.5 rebounds a game.

Tossing in a school single-season record 659 points, Jenkins led the charge as the Roadrunners finished 9-4 down the stretch to post a final mark of 13-19.

Near the end, they won six games in a row, including their last four in the regular season and their first two in the C-USA postseason.

At that point, after notching tournament wins over Florida Atlantic and Rice to move within two victories of the NCAA’s Big Dance, they were ousted by Western Kentucky in the conference semifinals.

Moving into the AAC this season, the Roadrunners are loaded with experienced players, including five returning starters.

Strength down low last year came from Jenkins and 6-3 center Elyssa Coleman (9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds). The lead guards were Sidney Love (9.9 points) and Kyra White (8.0), with Atwood playing on the wing. Those five started the last game of the C-USA tournament.

Key reserves for most of the year included forward Maya Linton and guards Madison Cockrell, Siena Guttadauro and Alexis Parker. Along with those four, Kyleigh McGuire also played off the bench — and all five of them are back. Another player returning is Nissa Sam-Grant, a 6-foot-4 post, who redshirted last season.

A few weeks into early fall semester workouts, there’s a completely different feel from this time last year, when the Roadrunners were trying to manage a team with eight newcomers, including five freshmen.

“Last year, we brought in eight new people,” assistant coach Empress Davenport said. “That’s essentially a starting five with reserves coming off the bench, having to learn a whole new system, having to understand the pace of collegiate basketball.

“This year we brought in three freshmen (guards Emma Lucio and Aysia Proctor and forward Idara Udo) and a transfer from James Madison, Cheyenne Rowe, who has a tremendous IQ.

“Last year, everyone was trying to learn the system and find cohesiveness (with) each other. Now, we have so much experience, our veteran players can pretty much coach the young ones.”

UTSA roster

Elyssa Coleman 6-3 forward/RS junior
Hailey Atwood 5-8 guard/grad
Alexis Parker 5-9 guard/soph
Emma Lucio 5-9 guard/freshman
Siena Guttadauro 5-6 guard/soph
Madison Cockrell 5-4 guard/soph
Sidney Love 5-8 guard/soph
Aysia Proctor 5-8 guard/freshman
Maya Linton 5-11 forward/soph
Cheyenne Rowe 6-2 forward/soph
Kyra White 5-9 guard/senior
Kyleigh McGuire 5-11 forward/senior
Idara Udo 6-1 forward/freshman
Nissa Sam-Grant 6-4 center/senior
Jordyn Jenkins 6-0 forward/senior

Excited for a seventh season as editor after learning a few lessons in humility

Jerry Briggs (left) works as the editor of The JB Replay. His wife, Paula, teaches special needs children at Copperfield Elementary in the Judson Independent School District. – Photo special

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The hand with the crooked scar has mostly healed, thanks in large measure to the skill of the surgeon and the nurses and the physical therapist, not to mention the support of my family and the promise of a seventh season writing and editing The JB Replay.

I’ve known for years that I’d need to deal with an issue known as Dupuytren’s contracture.

Basically, it’s a condition that slowly crumples the hands, with fascia thickening around tendons and pulling fingers down and inward, toward the palm. Left untreated, the malady can lead to serious problems. In my case, the doctor recommended surgery. I had my left hand fixed four years ago. My dominant hand — the right — was repaired on June 15.

For the first few weeks I debated whether to say something about my predicament.

I mean, I had to drop coverage of Texas-based teams in the NCAA baseball playoffs after the first weekend of the tournament. Then, in the weeks after the operation, I didn’t really know what to say about whether I could or should try to continue in a writing career that has spanned 46 years.

I mean, it was weird enough trying to do simple things around the house, much less think about how I should go about covering the upcoming college basketball season. Now a little more than eight weeks post-op, I’m feeling pretty strong. The right hand is not all the way back, but it’s on a good trajectory towards normalcy.

The hand no longer folds over the side of the laptop when I try to write a story. Thank goodness.

Overall, I’m feeling much, much more like my old self after swimming regularly in the mornings over the past few weeks. Hey, I’m no Michael Phelps. But I’ve knocked out about 1,500 meters in each of the last two trips to the pool. Now I feel ready to start making trips to the UTSA campus. To say hello to coaches Steve Henson and Karen Aston. To get acquainted with all the new faces on the rosters.

Clearly, most of my enthusiasm stems from just feeling good again.

Additionally, I just feel like I have a better perspective on a lot of things. For instance, I’ve written hundreds of stories over the years about athletes facing health challenges. I’ve always empathized with the athletes who were held back by injuries. Now I know from personal experience what it really feels like for a ball player’s season to be in question.

Moreover, the value of personal relationships has also come into much, much sharper focus. My wife, Paula, bless her heart, pretty much gave up her entire summer looking after me. When she wasn’t around the house, my son Charlie was. To my friends, everyone who called and messaged, you all played a huge role in my recovery.

Finally, for the readers who might have wondered why I didn’t write a thing about the College World Series in June or UTSA’s recent transition to the American Athletic Conference, I want to thank you for your patience. You guys are the reason I continue to run this site. Hands down.

UTSA women grind out a 69-68 victory over FAU in postseason tournament opener

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

What the UTSA Roadrunners may have lacked in artistic style, they made up for with gritty determination on Wednesday afternoon at The Star in Frisco.

Freshman Sidney Love hit two free throws with six seconds left, lifting the sixth-seeded Roadrunners to a 69-68 victory over the No. 11 Florida Atlantic University Owls at the Conference USA tournament.

Love produced 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as UTSA won its tournament opener and advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinals against the Rice Owls.

“This game was exactly like I thought it would be,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said. “Two teams that were pretty evenly matched…Really, really super even. Both teams I thought played their hearts out.”

UTSA was off its game early, turning the ball over with unforced errors to allow last-place FAU to stay close.

“There was a little bit of an ebb and flow to it,” Aston said. “As far as turnovers were concerned, maybe the difference in the game might have been us not turning it over in the second half near as much.”

With C-USA Player of the Year Jordyn Jenkins of UTSA in foul trouble, FAU led by one point going into the second quarter.

Just before halftime, Love hit three straight baskets for the Roadrunners, who went into halftime leading 28-24.

In the second half, Jenkins started to find a rhythm and UTSA threatened on a few occasions to run away with it.

Back-to-back threes by Jenkins and Siena Guttadauro lifted the Roadrunners into a 12-point lead midway through the third.

After fending off an FAU push, UTSA answered with its own surge, forging a 10-point advantage in with seven minutes remaining when Kyra White drilled a long three off the wing.

Down the stretch, the Owls would not fold, as guard Alexa Zaph stroked her fifth t of triple of the game.

Another big play for FAU came when Joiya Maddox tied the score on a three-point play.

Then, as the clocked ticked under one minute, the Owls followed with another brazen attack on the basket. Forward Janeta Rosentale drove the right side of the paint for a go-ahead bucket with 15 seconds left.

Trailing by one at that point, the Roadrunners called time, got themselves organized and put the ball in Love’s hands.

The former standout at San Antonio-area Steele High School promptly drove into the paint and was fouled. She made both free throws with 6.2 seconds left to boost the Roadrunners’ winning streak to five games.

Not bad for a player in her first collegiate postseason game.

Love said in a zoom interview that the game is easier for her now than it was back in November and December.

“It’s just ‘play basketball’ and don’t over-think anything,” she said. “Don’t worry about too much. With tournament play, it’s even more thrilling. I just want to do the best for my team.”

For FAU, Zaph was pretty thrilling herself. She scored 19 points and hit five of seven from beyond the arc.

Hubbard, also one of the conference’s top freshmen, scored 17 on five of 15 shooting. In the end, the Owls (12-18) couldn’t close it out against the Roadrunners (12-18) and lost their ninth game in a row.

Jenkins, who led C-USA in scoring with a 21.1-point average, finished with 18 points in only 22 minutes.

As usual, the junior transfer from USC was efficient, as she knocked down seven of 11 shots from the field.

At the end, Jenkins set the table for Love with two big plays, scoring from the low post with two minutes left and then sinking two free throws with 34 seconds remaining.

“We really honestly just played good enough to win,” Aston said. “I told them before the game, when you get into tournament play it doesn’t have to be pretty.

“You know, you’re trying to win. Whatever you have to do, to do that. I thought they took that to heart, and, I’m just super proud.

“We won a game here last year, and you want to build on that and have a chance to win more than one. We’ve given ourselves a chance to do that now.”

C-USA women’s tournament
At The Star, in Frisco

Wednesday’s results

Charlotte 72, FIU 59
UAB 75, North Texas 71
UTSA 69, Florida Atlantic 68

Thursday’s quarterfinals

No. 1 Middle Tennessee State (25-4) vs. No. 9 Charlotte (12-18), 11 a.m.
No. 4 UTEP (19-10) vs. No. 5 Louisiana Tech (19-11), 11:30 a.m.
No. 2 WKU (17-12) vs. No. 10 UAB (14-16), 1:30 p.m.
No. 3 Rice (22-7) vs. No. 6 UTSA (12-18), 2 p.m.

Surging UTSA women open C-USA tourney today against Florida Atlantic

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

Coach Karen Aston (right) says junior guard Kyra White has taken ‘complete ownership of our program’ in a 7-3 run to close the team’s 20-game Conference USA schedule. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA coach Karen Aston says it’s been amazing for her to watch the growth of her team over the last five weeks of the season. She says she’s excited about the “vibe” from the fans on campus.

Starting today in Frisco, Aston hopes to expand the interest even more when her sixth-seeded Roadrunners play the No. 11 Florida Atlantic University Owls in the first round of the Conference USA women’s basketball tournament.

Leading the way will be forward Jordyn Jenkins, who was named Tuesday as UTSA’s first Player of the Year in the C-USA, and former Judson High School standout Kyra White.

Both transferred from Southern Cal in the offseason to join Aston in a rebuild of a team that has been down for years.

“I really do believe word of mouth is getting out and that people are starting to believe in our program,” said Aston, in her second year at UTSA. “When you have a player like Jordyn, in particular, that chose to come here and take a chance on our vision … (and) you see Kyra White come home and take complete ownership of our program, it’s really fun to watch.”

The Roadrunners (11-18, 9-11) and the Owls (12-17, 5-15) will play today at 2 p.m. at The Star, the multi-purpose training site for the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

If UTSA wins, it would advance to take on third-seeded Rice (22-7, 13-7) on Thursday in the quarterfinals. The semifinals are set for Friday night and the finals on Saturday afternoon, with the C-USA postseason champion earning an NCAA tournament berth.

Aston says she wants her players to believe they can win their way into the NCAAs.

“I want ’em to believe,” she said. “Absolutely. I think we’ve played well enough to believe. We’ve got to go out and do it, and we understand that, but I think we’ve played well enough. This isn’t a fluke, as far as how well we’re playing, and I think they need to believe that.”

Confidence built gradually over the past month for the Roadrunners, who posted a 7-3 record in the second half of the 20-game C-USA schedule. During the run, UTSA posted victories over three teams that finished in the top five in the standings, including No. 1 seed Middle Tennessee State.

C-USA tournament
Today’s openers at Frisco

Women — (8) FIU vs. (9) Charlotte, 11 a.m.; (7) North Texas vs. (10) UAB, 1:30 p.m.; (6) UTSA vs. (11) FAU, 2 p.m.

Men — (8) Western Kentucky vs. (9) UTEP, 5:30 p.m.; (7) FIU vs. (10) Louisiana Tech, 8 p.m.; (6) Rice vs. (11) UTSA, 8:30 p.m.

Seedings in parentheses