FAU wins 12-5 as UTSA’s season ends at the American Baseball Championship

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The FAU Owls entered Wednesday’s elimination game at the American Baseball Championship without much fanfare.

After all, they lost 16 of 22 games at the end of the regular season and then got hammered 14-2 Tuesday night against the Tulane Green Wave in the opener of the double-elimination tournament.

Faced with the task of bouncing back against the second-seeded UTSA Roadrunners, few gave the Owls much of a chance. FAU players had other ideas.

The tournament’s No. 6 Owls exploded for 18 hits en route to an easy 12-5 victory to end UTSA’s season.

“I’m very proud of the guys,” FAU coach John McCormack said on a zoom call from the tournament site in Clearwater, Fla. “You have your back against the wall against a really good team. They finished second in the league.”

McCormack credited pitcher Trey Beard, a freshman, for showing composure after UTSA took an early 3-1 lead.

“After the third,” McCormack said, “Trey settled down and gave the offense a chance to get moving. We put up that six spot. Took a little pressure off us, and we were able to score some more.

“Good day,” the 16th-year FAU head coach added. “I was happy with the guys. Very proud of ’em.”

For UTSA, it was a tough day. Perhaps the toughest of the season. They took the field without injured Mason Lytle, the Newcomer of the Year in the AAC and the team’s leading hitter. Lytle played in a 9-5, 12-inning loss to Charlotte Tuesday night but couldn’t go against FAU because of a hamstring injury.

UTSA coach Pat Hallmark, whose season ended with a 32-24 record, wasn’t making any excuses.

“We didn’t play very well,” he said. “Yeah, it’s disappointing. (Those are) my thoughts. Florida Atlantic deserved to win. We played better most of the season. It’s a disappointing end. But I’m proud of the team. We had a good year, and I’m going to miss these seniors.”

One day, Hallmark might look back on his fifth year at UTSA with a different perspective. It could be that the Roadrunners overachieved during a 17-10 run through conference, during which it beat East Carolina in a weekend series in San Antonio.

But after making a run for the AAC’s regular-season title though the last weekend and then losing twice in two days at the tournament, he admitted that “it’s a little sour” to leave Florida this way.

“I guess losing is less sour than not playing very well,” he said. “That’s the part that’s sour. But I love these kids. I’m going to miss ’em. Guys like (pitchers) Daniel Garza and Uli Quiroga. Gosh dang it, I wish I had ’em back.”

Paced by Christian Adams, who went 4 for 4 at the plate, the Owls proved to be unstoppable on offense.

Spencer Rich also had three hits, and Brando Leroux, John Schoeder and Jake Millan notched two apiece. Leroux hit a home run, and he joined Rich, Adams and Schroeder with two RBI apiece.

For UTSA, Caleb Hill homered and drove in two runs to highlight a 2 for 5 performance. Hill finished the tournament with five hits.

On the pitching side, Quiroga (8-2) took the loss. He worked the first three innings and yielded six runs, five of them earned, on eight hits.


FAU 27-28
UTSA 32-24


UTSA reliever Conor Myles was ejected in the eighth inning after he hit FAU batter Christian Adams with a pitch.

Myles threw three pitches, including one that sailed high and behind Adams and all the way to the screen in front of the grandstand. A pitch followed that was high and inside, and then another one that hit Adams in the low back.

Asked about the pitch that hit Adams and the ensuing ejection of Myles, FAU coach John McCormack downplayed it.

“He’s coming in, in a tough situation, and I don’t know how much time he had to warm up,” McCormack said. “A ball got away from him. It happens. I didn’t think anything of it.”

The sequence of events in the eighth followed a seventh-inning incident involving Adams, a base runner, and UTSA second baseman Diego Diaz.

Adams led off with a single. FAU’s Jake Millan followed by hitting a ball into left field. As Adams ran, he approached second base and ran into Diaz, who had his back to the base runner.

The force of the collision resulted in both players falling to the ground. The infield umpire called Diaz for obstruction, McCormack said later.

McCormack said Adams intended to attempt a first-to-third base advance following the hit. He said Adams was looking at the ball in the outfield “and they just collided. I didn’t see it until they were both on the ground (and) then the umpire ruled obstruction, and Christian was able to go to third.

“I didn’t see it,” the coach added. “Looks like it was just a collision, and those things happen.”

With Diaz shaken up on the play, UTSA took him out of the game momentarily to have him checked out by the trainer. He returned during the same inning and played the rest of the game.

Asked about what happened in the incident involving Myles, Hallmark said he didn’t know. Added Hallmark, “He hit him. Probably going fastball in and just missed (on location) a little bit.”

Hallmark said he didn’t see the collision involving Adams and Diaz in the seventh.

“I was looking at the ball and the relay (throw), and when I looked back, Diego was on the ground.,” the UTSA coach said. “Obviously I put two and two together that the kid ran him over. But I was watching the play in the outfield, to see if we picked it up clean and made an accurate throw to the first guy.”

Hallmark said Diaz wanted to stay in the game. But it was determined that he should come out to be examined further by a trainer. “The trainer told me he thought he was fine,” Hallmark said. “So he and I chatted and he seemed totally fine.”

Diaz, a freshman from Pharr and Sharyland High School, finished the game with two hits and a run scored, and he was also charged with two errors.

Early game

Parker Smith pitched into the seventh inning, and Jack Riedel hit two opposite-field home runs as the Rice Owls beat UAB, 9-0, eliminating the Blazers.

With the win, the eighth-seeded Owls bounced back from a tournament-opening 12-4 loss to the East Carolina Pirates. They’ll play again on Friday against either the Wichita State Shockers or the top-seeded Pirates.

Smith gave up six hits in 6 and 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking two.


UAB 26-29
Rice 23-35

Coming up

On Thursday afternoon, in the winners’ bracket, the Shockers and the Pirates will play the first game, followed by the Charlotte 49ers and the Tulane Green Wave.

American tournament drama: Charlotte surges past UTSA, 9-5, in 12 innings

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

If the UTSA Roadrunners hope to reach the title game in the American Baseball Championship, they’re going to have to go through the losers’ bracket to get there.

Carson Bayne crushed a three-run homer to cap a four-run 12th inning Tuesday night, lifting the Charlotte 49ers past the Roadrunners 9-5 on opening day.

The game was a study in heartbreak for the Roadrunners. Also frustration, as they left 18 runners on base. They fell behind by four runs when the 49ers scored four in the top of the sixth, and then they rallied in the bottom of the eighth with four of their own to tie it.

Second-seeded UTSA seemed to have the game won a few times in extra innings and couldn’t finish off seventh-seeded Charlotte. In both the 10th and the 11th, they loaded the bases with one out and couldn’t score.

In the top of the 12th, the 49ers finally broke through against Daniel Garza.

Thad Ector opened the inning with a single to right field. Noah Furcht followed with a grounder to shortstop for what appeared to be a certain force play at second. But the throw was wild and both runners were safe.

At that point, one of the veterans of Charlotte’s 2023 Conference USA tournament title team came through in the clutch. Brandon Stahlman hit an RBI single to left. Ector scored from second base, racing across home plate to make it 6-5.

Bayne then did his part to put the game out of reach. He re-directed a 1-0 pitch from Garza, sending it over the wall in left for a three-run homer to account for the final runs of the game. It was the fifth hit of the night for Bayne, a 5-11 junior from Jacksonville, Fla.

In the bottom of the 12th, the Roadrunners picked up a couple of hits but left them stranded when 49ers freshman Joseph Taylor struck out Olivo to end the game. For the game, UTSA hit only 4 for 26 with runners on base and only 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position.

As a result, UTSA will play sixth-seeded Florida Atlantic in the losers’ bracket Wednesday. Tulane defeated FAU 14-2 in seven innings on the run rule late Tuesday night.

Despite scoring only once in the first seven innings, the Roadrunners erased a four-run deficit with a spirited four-run rally in the eighth. Caleb Hill led off with a single, and Isaiah Walker and Alexander Olivo followed with RBI doubles to make it 5-3.

Charlotte changed pitchers twice before the end of the inning as UTSA surged. With Tony Rossi on the mound, Diego Diaz walked with the bases loaded to force in one run. Lorenzo Morresi followed with a sacrifice fly to tie it.

With two runners aboard, Rossi fanned UTSA’s Matt King to end the uprising.


Charlotte 24-32
UTSA 32-23


Earlier in the afternoon, the game turned in a span of about 25 minutes from the bottom of the fifth and the top of the sixth innings. In the fifth, the Roadrunners had a baserunner at first with two of their best hitters at the plate.

First, Mason Lytle smashed a line drive to right field, but Charlotte’s Noah Furcht was in position to make an easy catch. Next, King drilled a ball high and far to center. He didn’t quite get all of it as Reid Haire angled toward the walk and gathered it in to end the inning.

In the sixth, with one out, the 49ers put together a one-out rally against Fischer Kingsbery and Ruger Riojas. The rally started innocently enough, with Brandon Stahlman and Carson Bayne hitting singles in front of the UTSA outfielders.

At that point, Dante DeFranco roped a double to right that scored Stahlman and sent Bayne to third. The Roadrunners thought they had thrown out DeFranco at second, but the umpire’s call was upheld.

UTSA, trailing 2-1, called on Riojas to try to squelch the threat. But Kaden Hopson, one of the returning 49ers’ starters from last year’s Conference USA tournament title team, worked the count to 3-1 before he unloaded with a ball that sailed over the fence in right-center.

The home run boosted the 49ers into a commanding 5-1 lead.

Early games

The top-seeded East Carolina Pirates rallied for 12 runs in the eighth inning and went on to record a 12-4 victory over the No. 8 Rice Owls on opening day of the American Baseball Championship.

Misplays on two Joey Berini fly balls into right field and an infield error on a potential inning-ending double play grounder doomed the Owls in the eighth. Jacob Starling capped the outburst with a two-run homer.

In the tournament opener, fourth-seeded Wichita State downed the mistake-prone No. 5 seed UAB Blazers, 8-2.

Tuesday’s results

Game 1: (4) Wichita State 8, (5) UAB 2
Game 2: (1) East Carolina 12, (8) Rice 4
Game 3: (7) Charlotte 9, (2) UTSA 5, 12 innings
Game 4: (3) Tulane 14, (6) Florida Atlantic 2, 7 innings

Wednesday’s schedule

Game 5: UAB vs. Rice, noon
Game 6: UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic. 47 minutes after Game 5

Thursday’s schedule

Game 7: Wichita State vs. East Carolina, noon
Game 8: Charlotte vs. Tulane, 47 minutes after Game 7

Roadrunners bounce back, beat the Rice Owls 4-2 in series finale

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Repay

James Taussig’s two-run homer in the eighth inning Sunday capped a four-run rally and boosted the UTSA Roadrunners to a 4-2 victory over the Rice Owls in the American Athletic Conference.

Roadrunners starting pitcher Ulises Quiroga (6-0) stayed undefeated for the season, throwing 97 pitches in seven innings and allowing only two runs on four hits. He struck out eight. Fischer Kingsbery sealed the victory and earned the save, his first, by striking out three over the last two innings.

The win allowed the Roadrunners to avoid losing three straight to the Owls in Houston leading into Tuesday night’s non-conference home game against the Texas State Bobcats.

Rice beat UTSA 9-8 in 10 innings on Friday night and 9-3 on Saturday. In addition, the Owls had the Roadrunners down 2-0 going into the eighth inning in the AAC series finale.

Facing Rice reliever Tom Vincent in the eighth, UTSA’s Andrew Stuckey led off with a single to left field. Mason Lytle followed with a double to left. On the play, Stuckey tried to come all the way around to score but was out at the plate on a relay throw from the second baseman.

Not to be denied, UTSA kept on swinging with Caleb Hill lining an RBI single to center that plated Lytle. From there, Alex Olivo grounded out to the right side, advancing Hill to second base and prompting the Owls to replace Vincent with Garrett Stratton.

Matt King worked the count to 3-1 and then bashed a double into the gap in left center, scoring Hill from second base and tying the game. Taussig then followed with a two-run home run to right field to make it 4-2.

Tucker Alch pitched well as the starter for the Owls, working his way through 6 and 1/3 innings scoreless. He struck out five. Stratton (1-3) was tagged with the loss.


UTSA 25-18, 12-6
Rice 17-26, 8-10

Coming up

Non-conference: Texas State at UTSA, Tuesday, 6 p.m.
AAC: Wichita State at UTSA, Friday, Saturday and Sunday


The East Carolina Pirates lead the AAC regular-season title race by two games over the second-place Roadrunners. The Pirates (35-8, 14-4) beat the Memphis Tigers 8-3 on Sunday to complete a three-game road sweep. East Carolina has won eight in a row and 13 out of 14 overall.

Texas State

Rice wins to end UTSA’s string of five straight AAC series victories

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA’s five-for-five streak of weekend series victories in the American Athletic Conference came to an end Saturday afternoon in Houston.

The Rice Owls erupted for five runs in the first inning and three in the second for a commanding eight-run lead en route to a series-clinching 9-3 victory over Roadrunners.

After winning 9-8 in 10 innings on Friday night, the Owls came alive early as Nathan Becker hit a two-run double and Trey Duffield added a three-run homer in the bottom of the first, allowing the Owls to cruise to their second straight win over the Roadrunners and their fifth in a row overall.

The series finale is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m.

Rice cranked out 16 hits to back the pitching of lefthander J.D. McCracken, who pitched 8 and 1/3 innings for the victory. McCracken was a steady performer, yielding only six hits and three walks while striking out three. The Rice infield defense turned three double plays behind him.

One of those double plays served to kill what potentially could have been a big inning for the Roadrunners in the top of the fourth.

With one out and a runner on base, Ty Tilson hit a ball down the right field line. The first base umpire turned around and watched it hit the ground near the line. He called it fair, which would have resulted in one run on the board for the Roadrunners.

But after a review, the umpires reversed themselves and called it foul. Tilson eventually bounced into an inning-ending double play.

Mason Lytle hit a two-run homer for the Roadrunners in the top of the sixth. Alex Olivo set it up with a leadoff double, and Lytle followed with his ninth homer of the year to make it 9-2.

UTSA scored again in the ninth, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep alive what had been a remarkable string of successful weekends in its new conference.

As former rivals in the Conference USA, UTSA and Rice are playing their inaugural season as members of the AAC. UTSA started the conference schedule in style, winning two of three against defending champion East Carolina.

The Roadrunners followed with series victories over Tulane, Charlotte, Memphis and UAB. The weekend triumphs against Tulane and Memphis both came on the road. Against both Charlotte and UAB, UTSA lost the opening game and rebounded to win the next two.

With attention turning to Sunday’s series finale, Rice is the team on a roll. The Owls not only have won five straight, they have also won eight of their last nine. Given that the Owls had lost nine straight and 13 of 14 before the winning started, it’s a notable achievement.

The Owls also feel good about reversing a trend against the Roadrunners in the series between the two in-state rivals. The Roadrunners won five of six against the Owls last season. In three previous seasons, Pat Hallmark-coached UTSA won 12 and lost five against Rice.


UTSA 24-18, 11-6
Rice 17-25, 8-9

Coming up

Game 3 of a three-game series in the AAC. UTSA at Rice, Sunday at 1 p.m. UTSA will play a non-conference, mid-week game at home Tuesday at 6 p.m. against I-35 rival Texas State. The Roadrunners return to AAC play at home next weekend (May 3-5) against the Wichita State Shockers.


American Conference-leading East Carolina (34-8, 13-4) has won two straight on the road at Memphis this weekend, claiming a 14-3 victory on Saturday afternoon after winning 14-0 in seven innings (on the run rule) on Friday night.

Rice catches a 10th-inning break and beats UTSA, 9-8

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

After letting a three-run lead slip away in the ninth inning Friday night, Rice Owls pushed across the winning run with one out in the bottom of the 10th, beating the UTSA Roadrunners, 9-8, in the American Athletic Conference.

A crazy sequence of two plays gave the victory to the Owls and knocked the Roadrunners out of first place in the AAC.

First, Tobias Motley lofted a pop fly to shallow right field. With the UTSA right fielder charging in, the ball dropped behind him, allowing Motley to motor all the way to third base.

Jacob Devenny followed with a squeeze bunt, ruled as an RBI single, for the winner. UTSA pitcher Ruger Riojas couldn’t catch it cleanly, everyone was safe, and Rice came away with the victory in the first game of a three-game series at Reckling Park.

It was a heartbreaker for the Roadrunners, and it was also costly. Earlier in the evening, the East Carolina Pirates won on the road, beating the Memphis Tigers 14-0 on the run rule in seven innings.

The Pirates now lead the AAC race with a record of 12-4, followed by the Roadrunners, who fell one game back at 11-5.

Motley and Ben Dukes slammed two-out, two-run homers off UTSA freshman Rob Orloski in the second inning, staking the Owls to a 4-1 lead.

The Roadrunners battled back with three runs on only one hit off Parker Smith in the top of the fourth to tie it. Undeterred, the Owls answered with two more scores in the bottom half to make it 6-4.

Manny Garza hiked the Owls’ advantage to 7-4 when he belted a solo home run in the fifth.

In the eighth inning, the Roadrunners started a rally, getting a couple of runners on for Caleb Hill, who rapped an RBI single through the right side.

At that point, Rice reliever Davion Hixon got tough. With runners at second and third, UTSA needed only a base hit to tie it, but Hixon struck out Alexander Olivo on a high fastball and got Matt King on a fly ball to center to end the threat.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Owls tacked on a run for insurance. Treyton Rank’s RBI single off Ruger Riojas padded the lead to 8-5.

UTSA rallied in the ninth to load the bases against Hixon with a leadoff double by Ty Tilson, a single by Isaiah Walker and then a walk to Diego Diaz. At that point, Mark Henning hit a one-hopper to Hixon, who threw home for the force and the first out.

Subsequently, Broc Parmer came to the plate as a pinch hitter and delivered with a two-run double to right, pulling UTSA to within one. With runners at first and third, Mason Lytle smashed a double off the wall in right, bringing in the tying run to make it 8-8.


UTSA 24-17, 11-5
Rice 16-25, 7-9

Coming up

Game Two of a three-game series in the AAC. UTSA at Rice, Saturday at 2 p.m. Game 3 is Sunday at 1 p.m.

UTSA opens a three-game AAC baseball series at Rice

Alex Olivo. UTSA lost to UT-Arlington 10-9 in the Roadrunners' baseball season opener on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Infielder/designated hitter Alexander Olivo batted .462 with four RBI in four games for the Roadrunners last week. – File photo by Joe Alexander.

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

For the UTSA Roadrunners, winning baseball games against the Rice Owls once seemed like a nearly insurmountable challenge. Winning on the road at Rice? Well, that once seemed to border on the impossible.

Lately, the tables have turned, according to a game-by-game account of the series in the UTSA baseball record book. Rice holds a 28-22 edge, but UTSA has won 15 of the last 21 since 2018, including the last four.

More surprisingly, UTSA is 9-4 against Rice in the last 13 meetings at Houston. Quite a change from the early days of the series when the Owls once went 13-0 at home against the Roadrunners over the first 11 years of the series.

Naturally, except for historical context, none of that matters when the Roadrunners open a three-game road series against the Owls at Reckling starting tonight.

With both competing in their first season among the 10 baseball-playing members of the American Athletic Conference, UTSA comes into the weekend tied for first place with the East Carolina Pirates. Rice enters tied for eighth, though the Owls have started to show more consistency of late.

Coached by Jose Cruz Jr., the namesake son of a 1980s-era Houston Astros standout, the Owls have won six of their last seven overall. They are 5-1 in their last six AAC games after sweeping three at South Florida last weekend.

Led by slugging Treyton Rank, the Owls scored in double figures in each of their three games against the Bulls. Rank, a junior from Monticello, Fla., hit .581 with three doubles, a homer and eight RBI in the series.


UTSA 24-16, 11-4
Rice 15-25, 6-9

Coming up

A three-game American Athletic Conference series. UTSA at Rice, Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m. Freshman Robert Orloski is scheduled to start the opener for the Roadrunners against the Owls’ Parker Smith.


UTSA head coach Pat Hallmark is 12-5 against Rice, where he once played for a season and later served as a longtime assistant coach under Wayne Graham. Hallmark’s Roadrunners went 5-1 against Rice last season. Hallmark played at Rice in 1995 and worked as an assistant coach there from 2006-16.

After an up-and-down start to this season, Hallmark’s Roadrunners are 14-5 over their last 19 games. Last week, UTSA went 3-1 at home, winning two of three on the weekend against the UAB Blazers.

The Roadrunners have remained in the AAC title race with East Carolina despite the loss of injured Tye Odom. UTSA is 7-3 without Odom, a multi-skilled outfielder, since he went down with a high ankle sprain at home against Charlotte on April 5. His availability for the Rice series is uncertain.

UTSA worked utility man Isaiah Walker back into the lineup last weekend against UAB. Walker, one of the team’s best defensive players at multiple positions, has played in only six games this season.

The Roadrunners have won all five series they have played in the AAC, including road series wins at Tulane (3-0) and Memphis (2-1). UTSA players in the hunt for postseason honors include pitchers Ruger Riojas and Ulises Quiroga, outfielders Mason Lytle and Caleb Hill and infielder Matt King.

Riojas leads the AAC in saves (six), is second in wins (seven) and third in ERA (2.49). In his last outing, the sophomore from Wimberley took the loss, the first of his career. Last Friday night, he yielded four runs in 3 and 2/3 innings as UAB beat UTSA, 7-3.

Quiroga (5-0 3.92) has emerged as the team’s stopper on Sundays. The senior from Baytown is 4-0 in his last four starts. In three of those starts, he has yielded two or fewer earned runs in six or more innings.

Lytle (with a batting average of .388) ranks second in the AAC in hitting. He and Alexander Olivo (.368), Hill (.354) and King (.333) rank among the AAC’s top nine in average. Olivo batted .462 in four games last week.

UTSA women win, seize a No. 4 seed in the AAC tournament

Idara Udo. UTSA beat Rice 60-52 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, March 5, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

The American Athletic Conference tournament opens Saturday in Fort Worth, but freshman Idara Udo and the UTSA Roadrunners have earned a double bye all the way through to Monday’s quarterfinals.- Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

For the UTSA women’s basketball team, its winning formula Tuesday night was a lot like so many others this season. Appy pressure on defense. Rebound with a fury. On the offensive end, pound the ball into the paint and make the opponent stand up to a physical style.

Once again, the Roadrunners made it all work. Despite their own offensive struggles, they opened a 12-point lead at halftime, held a 15-point advantage after three quarters and bullied their way to a 60-52 victory over the Rice Owls.

With the victory, the Roadrunners finished the regular season 16-13 and clinched a tie for fourth in the American Athletic Conference at 10-8.

Elyssa Coleman. UTSA beat Rice 60-52 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, March 5, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Elyssa Coleman produced 14 points and six rebounds in the regular-season finale against Rice despite foul trouble that limited her to 17 minutes. – Photo by Joe Alexander

About 90 minutes after the game was completed, the AAC on its website posted a bracket indicating the Roadrunners would be the No. 4 seed in the five-day AAC postseason tournament, which will open on Saturday at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth.

A double bye will place UTSA in a strong position to claim the conference’s postseason title. In other words, the team will get to skip past play on Saturday and Sunday and will get to start in the quarterfinal round on Monday, March 11.

With such an advantageous placement in the bracket, the Roadrunners will need to win only three games in three days to clinch the AAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Before the conference posted its bracket, UTSA coach Karen Aston said in her postgame news conference that she believes the Roadrunners, picked to finish eighth in the conference’s preseason poll, would get the No. 4 seed. “I think we’re fourth, unless I’m missing something, and I don’t think I am,” she said.

AAC teams receiving double byes into the tournament quarterfinals will be No. 1 Tulsa, No. 2 North Texas, No. 3 Temple and UTSA.

Tulsa and North Texas both won Tuesday night and finished 13-5, while Temple, at 12-5, plays its finale on Wednesday at home against FAU.

Officially, UTSA and South Florida have tied for fourth in the standings at 10-8. But with the Roadrunners having beaten the Bulls 65-42 in San Antonio on Jan. 16, they get No. 4 seed via the two-team tiebreaker, which is based on the one and only head-to-head meeting this season.

“I’m really proud of the way the team played tonight,” Aston said. “I know that they haven’t necessarily been in that situation before, where the stakes were as high as they were today. They knew first of all that if they didn’t win, they had a chance to get in that bottom four and play the first day (on Saturday).

“We’ve been talking about that since Day 1 … that it’s a difficult track if you have to play that first day. So I think that was on their minds and they were ready to play. I could tell they were ready to go at shootaround. I thought the last five minutes, we got a little bit tight, and maybe tried to play not to lose.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA beat Rice 60-52 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, March 5, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jordyn Jenkins came through in the last minute with five of her 14 points as the Roadrunners fended off a late Rice Owls rally. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“But that’s a learning process.”

Aston said that by posting a winning record in conference play, UTSA has put itself into a position to play in a postseason tournament, no matter what happens to the Roadrunners in Fort Worth at the AAC.

“It could be one of three tournaments,” UTSA’s third-year coach said. “We hope it’s the big one (the NCAA tournament), but the fact is, we’re eligible for postseason and that’s just an unbelievable feat in the time that we’ve been trying to build this program.”

Initially, after UTSA completed the game and secured the victory, players looked almost as exhausted as they were exuberant. It was a physical game. They had the upper hand for most of it, but the Owls made a run at the end behind post Malia Fischer, who produced 30 points and 12 rebounds.

Later, after the Roadrunners sang the school song at halfcourt, players were informed that all the dominoes had fallen their way on the last night of the season, meaning that they likely had attained the double bye. In unison, they celebrated, with some of them smiling broadly, some of them clapping and others just screaming.

UTSA redshirt junior Elyssa Coleman told reporters that she doesn’t think the Roadrunners have a so-called ‘ceiling’ in terms of how far they might advance in the AAC and beyond. “It’s really cool,” she said, “like in my first year (in 2021-22), winning that first conference game was like a Super Bowl win for us.”

Coleman, playing only 17 minutes because of foul trouble, finished with 14 points and six rebounds. Jordyn Jenkins, playing in only her eighth game of the season, produced 14 points and nine boards.

After spending most of the past year rehabilitating a knee injury, Jenkins came up big at the end of the game against the Owls, scoring five points in the final 30 seconds to help the Roadrunners close out the game.

Freshman Idara Udo also played a major role, scoring 10 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, including six on the offensive end. As a team, UTSA outrebounded Rice, 45-41. The Roadrunners held the Owls to 30 percent shooting on 18 of 60 from the field.

Kyra White. UTSA beat Rice 60-52 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, March 5, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Senior guard Kyra White played 35 minutes and totaled seven points, two assists and two rebounds. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Sidney Love. UTSA beat Rice 60-52 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, March 5, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Sidney Love had four points, seven rebounds and two assists. – Photo by Joe Alexander


Rice 15-14, 9-9
UTSA 16-13, 10-8

Coming up

AAC women’s basketball championship

Saturday, March 9
Game 1: No. 13 Wichita State vs. No. 12 Florida Atlantic – 4 p.m.| ESPN+
Game 2: No. 14 Tulane vs. No. 11 SMU – 6 p.m. | ESPN+

Sunday, March 10
Game 3 – No 9 East Carolina vs. No. 8 Memphis – Noon | ESPN+
Game 4 – Game 1 winner vs. No. 5 South Florida – 2 p.m. | ESPN+
Game 5 – No. 10 Rice vs. No. 7 UAB – 6 p.m. | ESPN+
Game 6 – Game 2 winner vs. No. 6 Charlotte – 8 p.m. | ESPN+

Monday March 11
Game 7 – Game 3 winner vs. No. 1 Tulsa – Noon | ESPN+
Game 8 – Game 4 winner vs. No. 4 UTSA – 2 p.m. | ESPN+
Game 9 – Game 5 winner vs. No. 2 North Texas – 6 p.m. | ESPN+
Game 10 – Game 6 winner vs. No. 3 Temple – 8 p.m. | ESPN+

Tuesday, March 12
Game 11 – Semifinal 1, Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner – 6 p.m. | ESPN+
Game 12 – Semifinal 2, Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner – 8 p.m. | ESPN+

Wednesday, March 13
Game 13 – Championship, Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner – 6 p.m. | ESPNU

–From the AAC website

Aysia Proctor. UTSA beat Rice 60-52 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, March 5, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Aysia Proctor hit three of six from the field and had six points and three rebounds. – Photo by Joe Alexander

First half

After misfiring on 10 straight shots in the second quarter, the UTSA Roadrunners started to make a move.

Finally breaking through on the offensive end, they scored 10 points in two minutes. Near the end of the streak, the Roadrunners trapped at midcourt, forced a turnover and turned it into a Jordyn Jenkins fast-break layup.

Pressured again by the Roadrunners, the Owls finally took advantage and turned it into a Malia Fischer layup for the final points of the half. UTSA ducked into the dressing room leading 30-18.

For the Roadrunners, it was a productive half in many ways. They forced the Owls into 7 of 26 shooting from the field, including 0 for 9 from the three-point line. They also harassed the Owls into 11 turnovers.

Then again, it felt like the Roadrunners should have been able to open a wider gap than 12 points at intermission.

UTSA hit only 12 of 32 from the floor, with some of the misses coming on clean looks. Despite Rice’s problems offensively, UTSA never led by more than seven in the first quarter. Their 12-point lead was the largest of the half.

Karen Aston. UTSA beat Rice 60-52 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, March 5, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Third-year coach Karen Aston has led the Roadrunners to a 16-13 record overall, including 10-8 in the American. UTSA hasn’t had a winning record in the regular season since 2014-15 when team went 16-14, which ultimately became 16-15 after a Conference USA tournament loss. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Mason scores 30 as Rice holds off UTSA down the stretch, 80-76

Adante' Holiman. Rice beat UTSA 80-76 in American Athletic Conference men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Guard Adante’ Holiman hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points off the bench in his first game since Jan. 2. Holiman sat out the last seven games with a sprained ankle. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Mekhi Mason scored 17 of his season-high 30 points in the second half and Anthony Selden knocked down two free throws in the last minute Saturday, lifting the Rice Owls to an 80-76 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

Jordan Ivy-Curry led the Roadrunners with 19 points.

UTSA lost its second straight game and fell to 1-6 in its last seven despite a spirited comeback in the final five minutes that fell short.

Mekhi Mason. Rice beat UTSA 80-76 in American Athletic Conference men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Arizona native Mekhi Mason hit 11 of 19 from the field and scored a season-high 30 points for the Rice Owls. – Photo by Joe Alexander

With 5:02 remaining, Rice took a commanding 73-58 lead as Mason pulled up to knock down a jumper.

From there, the Roadrunners rallied with an 18-5 run over the next four and a half minutes to pull within two.

Guard Adante’ Holiman, playing his first game after missing most of January with a sprained ankle, swished a three-pointer off the wing to make it a 78-76 game with 33 seconds left.

After the timeout, UTSA pressured the ball, trapping just as Rice brought it past halfcourt. The ball was swung around to Selden, and UTSA fouled him with 21 seconds left.

Selden, a 73 percent free-throw shooter who was one for two at the line at that point, made both free throws to give the Owls a four-point lead.

On the other end, the Roadrunners came up empty with four straight misses before the buzzer sounded.

The difference in the game was Mason, a 6-foot-5 sophomore from Gilbert, Ariz. Mason entered the arena averaging 14 points for the season on 41 percent shooting, including 32 of 97 from the three-point arc. He torched the Roadrunners by hitting 11 of 19 from the field. Mason made three of seven from distance.

Jordan Ivy-Curry. Rice beat UTSA 80-76 in American Athletic Conference men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the second half. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Point guard Travis Evee also hurt the Roadrunners, scoring 18 points and sinking four of eight from the arc. In all, the Owls made 12 of 29 from distance, getting the best of the 3-point shooting Roadrunners, who managed only seven of 25 on the afternoon.

In the teams’ last meeting, played in Houston on Jan. 6, the Roadrunners won it 89-82 in overtime and slowed down the Owls with a 2-3 zone.

They tried to mix it up a little in the rematch, throwing out a 1-3-1, but Evee, Mason, Alem Huseinovich and Noah Shelby took turns shooting over it with success.

“I thought the 1-3-1 matched up,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said on the team’s broadcast, on KTKR AM-760. “At times it had the effect that we needed it to have. Guys embraced that this week. I thought they did a good job with that. But, long way to go. We got to play harder. Got to play harder. There (are) loose balls we’re not getting. Rebounds we’re not getting. We got to play harder.”


Rice 9-13, 3-6
UTSA 8-14, 2-7

Scott Pera. Rice beat UTSA 80-76 in American Athletic Conference men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Scott Pera’s Rice Owls improved to 3-2 over their last five games. The Owls have notched victories over Temple, Memphis and UTSA in that stretch. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Coming up

UTSA at Wichita State, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.


The Owls nearly completely turned the tables on the two Roadrunners who hurt them the most last month. Center Carlton Linguard Jr. scored 24 points and Dre Fuller Jr. had 23 in the first meeting. In the rematch, Linguard scored six and Fuller was shut out. Both were 0 for 3 from long distance in the first half, when the Roadrunners went 3 for 17 as a team.

Linguard battled hard to the end, making some plays down the stretch and finishing with 10 rebounds.

Leading the Roadrunners were Jordan Ivy-Curry, Christian Tucker, Adante’ Holiman and Trey Edmonds. Ivy-Curry, the team’s leading scorer, hit for 19 points on 6 for 16 shooting in 27 minutes. Tucker produced 14 points, eight assists and four steals.

Holiman, a UTSA sophomore from McAlester, Okla., scored 11 points in 17 minutes off the bench. He injured his ankle on Jan. 2 late in a home game against the UAB Blazers. The 6-foot transfer from UT Rio Grande Valley sat out the next seven games in rehabilitation before starting to work out full speed earlier this week.

“I thought he was really good considering how much time he’s missed,” Henson said. “He got three practices in this week, (on) Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. He stepped right in like hasn’t missed a beat.”

Edmonds, one of UTSA’s big men, scored 10 points on four of five shooting. Massal Diouf, a power forward off the bench, contributed six points and seven rebounds.

Trey Edmonds. Rice beat UTSA 80-76 in American Athletic Conference men's basketball on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA center Trey Edmonds scores on a breakaway dunk. Edmonds finished with 10 points on four of five shooting. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA men down Rice 89-82 in overtime for first AAC win

Carlton Linguard Jr. scored 24 points and Dre Fuller Jr. added 23 on Saturday as the UTSA Roadrunners claimed their first American Athletic Conference victory in men’s basketball, defeating the Rice Owls 89-82 in overtime in Houston.

In a game played off the Rice campus at the University of St. Thomas, UTSA hit 14 three-pointers to secure the victory, with Fuller and Linguard knocking down nine between them.

Fuller stroked five for nine from beyond the arc and Linguard, a 7-foot center, hit four of eight.


UTSA 7-8, 1-2
Rice 6-9, 0-2

Roadrunners power past Owls 11-6 to complete a series sweep

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

If you’re looking for the most important storyline for UTSA in its sweep of the Rice Owls this weekend at Roadrunner Field, it would have to center on championship-caliber resilience and inner toughness. In winning three straight, the team had to come from behind each day.

On Friday, the Roadrunners erased deficits of four and three runs.

Saturday, on a day prolonged by a two-hour weather delay, they were down five runs twice early and came back to win again. Finally, in the finale on Sunday, they took a big early lead themselves, lost it momentarily, and then rumbled to score six runs in the sixth en route to an 11-6 victory.

Senior Leyton Barry capped the big inning with his eighth homer of the season and the first grand slam of his career.

As a result, the Roadrunners registered their fifth series sweep of the season, claimed their 36th victory — three shy of the school record — and seized significant momentum leading into next weekend’s Conference USA showdown against the Dallas Baptist Patriots.

“It feels great,” Barry said. “Any time you can get a sweep, it feels fantastic. Especially this weekend, because we came back in all three games. Especially the first two, when we were down by multiple runs. So to come back and win all those games, it feels even better than the other sweeps, just because we had to fight for these wins.”

As the weekend progressed, it was evident that power hitting would be a major factor. The Owls hit seven home runs, but the Roadrunners matched them with seven of their own. In the finale, Ben Royo and Guy Garibay Jr. powered balls out of the yard for Rice. UTSA answered with long balls by Antonio Valdez, Caleb Hill and Barry.

With UTSA trailing 6-5 going into its half of the sixth, Cristian Cienfuegos entered to pitch for Rice and Hill, one of the hottest hitters on the team, greeted him immediately with a solo homer. Matt King followed with a single and moved up 90 feet on a ground ball.

With Sammy Diaz at the plate, a key sequence unfolded. Diaz singled into right field, and when the throw came into the infield, it got away for an error. King scored easily to make it 7-6, while Diaz reached second base. The miscue seemed to rattle Cienfuegos, who promptly hit the next two batters with pitches to put three men on the bags.

At that point, Rice coaches lifted Cienfuegos, replacing him with Matt Linskey. But on the tall righthander’s first offering, Barry met it solidly and pulled it over the right field wall. In other words, four runs on one swing. As soon as he rounded the bases and met his teammates, he jumped up for the leaping arm-bump and took a seat. He was then greeted with a question.

“In the dugout, someone mentioned, ‘Hey, have you hit a grand slam before?’ Barry recalled. “I said, ‘You know, now that I think about it, I haven’t.’ So, that was pretty great.”

UTSA pitching had its ups and downs all weekend. Sunday was no different. Fischer Kingsbery started and worked two innings. He struck out three but yielded a long homer to Royo, his second of the series, which cleared the wall in center field. Uli Quiroga had a rough go of it, giving up five runs in the fourth inning, including a three-run homer by Guy Garibay, Jr.

Fortunately for the Roadrunners, Ruger Riojas (5-0) was on his game. Entering in the fifth inning, he pitched all the way into the eighth. In 3 and 1/3 scoreless innings, he gave up five hits. Two came in the eighth, which prompted UTSA to replace him with Ryan Beaird, who got out of the inning on a deep fly ball by Aaron Smigelski. Beaird finished with 1 and 1/3 innings of shutout ball, yielding only one hit.

For Beaird, it was his second strong outing of the weekend. He pitched one shutout inning Friday night and earned the victory. Though his season has been marked with some inconsistency, the Roadrunners are happy to see him throwing well going into the last two weeks of the regular season.

“It feels good,” said Beaird, a sophomore from Reagan High School. “It’s nice to know that I have eight other guys playing for me, willing to put themselves on the line to play for me. Every single one of those guys out there, they’re playing hard. It’s nice to have that when you’re on the mound.”


Rice 17-30, 7-17
UTSA 36-12, 19-4

Series glance

Friday: UTSA beats Rice, 9-7…UTSA trailed 4-0 and 7-4 and then rallied.
Saturday: UTSA beats Rice, 10-8…Trailed 5-0 and 6-1 and, after a weather delay, rallied again.
Sunday: UTSA beats Rice, 11-6…Trailed 6-5 and scored six runs in the sixth.

Coming up

Dallas Baptist at UTSA, a three-game series starting Friday at 6 p.m.

C-USA standings

Dallas Baptist 20-4, 36-12
UTSA 19-4, 36-12
Charlotte 13-10, 24-23
Louisiana Tech 13-11, 24-25
FAU 12-12, 28-20
Western Kentucky 12-12, 27-21
Middle Tennessee 12-12, 23-23
Rice 7-17, 17-30
UAB 6-18, 15-31
FIU 5-19, 18-29


UTSA center fielder Shane Sirdashney, a .361 hitter and a standout defensively, is battling a leg injury that has kept him out for most of the last three weeks. Coach Pat Hallmark is hopeful but is uncertain if he’ll have him against Dallas Baptist.

Sirdashney played a few innings in the loss to Sam Houston State last week but wasn’t on the team’s 27-man roster this weekend against Rice. For the season, Sirdashney has 53 hits and has scored 41 runs, so his loss is significant.

“He’s continuing to get treated and has seen a couple of different doctors,” Hallmark said. “It’s a hamstring injury, and hamstrings are tricky. We’re doing well without him. But he’s such a good player, it’d be silly to say we’re fine without him.”

Hallmark said his team has been dealing with a series of injuries to key players over the last three weeks.

“The injuries are worrisome,” he said. “We’ve had ’em for three weeks. Shane and Isaiah (Walker) got the leg issues and (Tye) Odom’s got the back. (Antonio) Valdez is playing hurt. So, in the back of my mind, it’s worrisome, because those are really good players. But we’ve got guys stepping up … I’m proud of the whole team. Guys are doing everything they can to win.”