Lawrence-led Charlotte 49ers to test the upstart UTSA women

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

Dazia Lawrence and the Charlotte 49ers are the talk of American Athletic Conference in women’s basketball.

Picked to finish 10th in the league’s preseason poll, the 49ers sit in first place in the AAC with a 4-0 record.

They’re warming up at the UTSA Convocation right now, preparing for a 2 p.m. game against the UTSA Roadrunners women.

Dazia Lawrence, a dynamic guard-forward, leads the 49ers. She averaged 28 points and 5.5 rebounds last week. This week, she torched the Rice Owls for 24 points in a 61-54 victory Thursday night in Houston.

“She’s definitely the head of their team,” UTSA guard Sidney Love said. “We’re just going to have to know that she’s going to hit tough shots. We’re going to have to contain her. We’ll have to adjust to what she can do. But we’ll be all right.”

UTSA has a player in Elyssa Coleman that has been putting up some numbers, as well. Coleman had 32 points and 19 rebounds last week against Wichita State and followed Wednesday night at Florida Atlantic with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

As a result, the Roadrunners have bounced back from an 0-2 start, getting to 2-2 as they prepare to face the 49ers.

“I think we’re coming off two good wins,” Love said. “We started a little slow. But I think we needed that to find a place to pick, to build on. We’re in a good space right now. We’re just building. It’s all positive energy.”

One of the most remarkable aspects of UTSA’s 8-7 season to date has been the team’s resilience in competing without Jordyn Jenkins, the Player of the Year last season in Conference USA.

Jenkins, a USC transfer who averaged 20 points per game last season, hurt her knee last April in the offseason and is still rehabilitating.

That UTSA has continued to progress as a program speaks volumes about the heart of everyone suiting up today against Charlotte.

And, just for the record, Jenkins is in the arena with her teammates as she has been all season, but she isn’t expected to play against the 49ers.

“I like to call it bittersweet, because she’s such a great player,” Love said. “We would do nothing but elevate if we had her on the court. But without her, it’s made people step up and realize that we all need each other.

“We all have to play for each other,” Love said. “We have to be big on the court in certain moments when we need to be big. I just think it’s made the team better, and when she comes back, it’ll be just that much better for everybody.”

Coming up

South Florida at UTSA, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.

UTSA women improve to 4-2 after rallying past Sam Houston State

Guard Kyra White scored 11 of her 14 points in the fourth quarter as the UTSA women rallied from an 11-point deficit to down the Sam Houston State Bearkats, 63-56, Saturday afternoon in Huntsville.

With UTSA trailing for most of the game and by a 44-33 margin after three quarters, White and Sidney Love went to work.

In the fourth period, White hit all four of her field goal attempts and all three shots from the free-throw line, while backcourt mate Sidney Love hit five of six from the line to highlight a seven-point outburst. Love finished the game with 12.

Elyssa Coleman led the Roadrunners with 17 points and six rebounds.

Guard Sydnee Kemp had 14 points and Raanee Smith 13 for the Bearkats. Kemp had five of her points, including a three, in an 8-0 run to the end of the third quarter.


UTSA 4-2
Sam Houston State 3-2

Coming up

Texas State at UTSA, Thursday, 5 p.m.

Surprising UTSA women set to play their fifth road game of the young season

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

Junior Elyssa Coleman will lead the UTSA Roadrunners into today’s road game at Sam Houston State. — File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

A women’s college basketball odyssey of sorts is scheduled to come to an end today in Huntsville.

The UTSA Roadrunners are set to complete a season-opening stretch of six games — with five of them on the road — in Huntsville against the Sam Houston State Bearkats.

UTSA (3-2) and Sam Houston State (3-1) are set to tip off at 4 p.m. at Johnson Coliseum. The Roadrunners, 1-0 at home and 2-2 on the road so far, have fared surprisingly well leading into their 20th day of the regular season.

If they can play well and perhaps catch a few breaks against the Bearkats, they could return to San Antonio today two games over .500. At worst, they will have broken even.

Regardless of what happens today, it’s a good sign for a team to be in such a position near the end of the first month of any season, let alone one in which it is playing without its best player.

Jordyn Jenkins, rehabilitating a knee injury, hasn’t been in the lineup yet. Players such as Sidney Love, Kyra White, Elyssa Coleman, Maya Linton and freshman Aysia Proctor have stepped up, leading the first-year program in the American Athletic Conference to a home victory over New Mexico State, along with road wins at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and UT Arlington.

In their last outing, on Monday in Lubbock, the Roadrunners played well but dropped a 63-58 decision in Big 12 country against the Texas Tech Lady Raiders.

Against Sam Houston, they’ll hardly be lacking in confidence, though they will need to take care of the ball. After turning it over 31 times at Texas Tech, they’ll play a team that ranks among the nation’s best at creating turnovers. The Bearkats force 26.8 opponent miscues per game.

Sam Houston is making the transition this season into Conference USA. It lost only to Houston and recently claimed a 66-62 victory on the road against Texas State.


UTSA 3-2
Sam Houston State 3-1

Coming up

Texas State at UTSA, Thursday, 5 p.m.

Texas Tech stays undefeated with a late defensive stand against the UTSA Roadrunners

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Bailey Maupin scored five of her team-high 18 points in the final four minutes Monday night as the Texas Tech Lady Raiders remained undefeated with a 63-58 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners.

Maupin also had a big defensive play in the final minute.

With Tech leading by the eventual final score, both Maupin and Elina Arike stood their ground and got knocked down by UTSA guard Sidney Love.

Though Love’s shot went in, it was waved off on a charging call, one of two costly turnovers on the Roadrunners in the final 30 seconds.

Overall, Tech forced UTSA into a season-high 31 turnovers, which overshadowed what otherwise was a solid performance by the Roadrunners on the road against a Big 12 program.

UTSA out-shot Tech from the field (45.1 to 33.9) and won the rebounding battle (43-30), but it wasn’t enough. In the end, the Roadrunners’ three-game winning streak, including two on the road, was snapped.

Driving past defenders and creating space for herself much of the time, Love scored a team-high 18 points on seven of 14 shooting. Kyra White produced 13 points and eight rebounds. Meanwhile, freshman Aysia Proctor had 10 and five boards.

Guard Jasmine Shavers scored 15 points and had three steals for the Lady Raiders. Jordyn Merritt led defensively with four steals for Tech.

First half

Applying pressure on defense, the Lady Raiders held the Roadrunners without a field goal for more than four minutes in the second quarter en route to a 35-25 halftime lead.

Tech’s defense was the difference as the Raiders forced 18 turnovers and scored 21 points off those miscues. At one point in the second quarter, UTSA committed five turnovers in a three-minute span, allowing Tech to expand a nine-point lead to 17.

UTSA responded in the last few minutes of the half, outscoring Tech 8-2. Sophomore Sidney Love made a steal and hit two baskets in the last two minutes.

Kilah Freelon, Ashley Chevalier and Shavers led the Raiders in scoring in the half with eight points apiece. Though the Raiders hit only 35.3 percent from the field, they made up for that with nine of 11 shooting at the free-throw line.

UTSA, by contrast, was only two for two at the line. The Roadrunners were effective when they could get a shot off. They hit 52.4 percent from the field. Love had eight points and Aysia Proctor six at the half for the Roadrunners.


Texas Tech 5-0
UTSA 3-2

Coming up

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

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.

Love scores career-high 26 as UTSA beats Arlington, 70-66

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

Sophomore guard Sidney Love scored a career-high 26 points Saturday afternoon, lifting the UTSA Roadrunners to a 70-66 victory over the UT Arlington Lady Mavs.

Sidney Love. UTSA beat St. Mary's 67-46 in a women's basketball exhibition game on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Sidney Love scored 26 points to top her previous career high of 23 from New Year’s Eve last season against the UAB Blazers. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Playing in Arlington at the College Park Center, the Roadrunners withstood a late challenge from the winless Mavs to win their third straight game and their second straight on the road.

Love, a multi-skilled talent from San Antonio area Steele High School, hit six of 10 shots from the field and one of two from three-point distance. She enjoyed great success in taking the ball to the basket and drawing fouls, converting 13 of 15 from the free-throw line.

Sophomore Maya Linton, who played in high school in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at Duncanville, posted a double double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Linton is starting at power forward, with UTSA star Jordyn Jenkins unavailable as she rehabilitates a knee injury. Jenkins, the Player of the Year in Conference USA last season, hasn’t played this season.

In the big picture, the Roadrunners might be starting to turn the corner as a program. Last year, they finished with a 13-19 record. But they enjoyed a strong showing at the end of the season, winning nine of their last 13 games, including two at the C-USA tournament. This year, as they enter play in the American Athletic Conference, they’ve won three of their first four.

All told, their fast start this season means that they have posted a 12-5 record in their last 17, starting that run with a 66-63 win at Louisiana Tech last Jan. 28. They’ll get another test Monday when they play on the road in the Big 12 Conference at Texas Tech.


UTSA 3-1
UT Arlington 0-4

Coming up

UTSA at Texas Tech, Monday, 6 p.m.

Setting the stage

Entering play against the Mavs, UTSA had enjoyed moderate success in the new season. In the season opener, the Roadrunners took a 70-55 loss at Arizona State of the Pac 12 Conference. Returning home, they survived a close encounter with the New Mexico State Aggies, winning 58-55 behind 19 points from freshman Aysia Proctor. On Wednesday night, they traveled to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, fell behind by as many as 15 points in the third quarter and then rallied for a 66-59 victory in overtime.

Love’s outburst

Love carried the Roadrunners in the third quarter, when they outscored the Mavs 18-13 and opened up a 50-45 lead. Taking advantage of her size, quickness and ball-handling skills, she scored 12 in the period. In doing so, the former San Antonio area standout motored inside for layups and hit one three from the corner.

Freshman forward Idara Udo also had a good stretch in the third, scoring five points. Udo, from Plano, finished with nine points and seven rebounds off the bench.

First half

Facing a team with a wide array of offensive options, the Roadrunners allowed a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter to evaporate, with the Lady Mavs storming from behind to tie the game, 32-32, at halftime.

In the second period, the Mavs unleashed a diverse attack that often put the Roadrunners on their heels. Drives into the paint. Reverse layups. Soft jumpers from the mid range and three-point rainbows. UTA had it all going on as the home team won the quarter, 22-15.

UTSA enjoyed equivalent success in the first quarter. While holding UTA to 26 percent shooting, UTSA kept applying pressure and moved out to a 17-10 lead after the first 10 minutes. Kyra White and Maya Linton contributed four points apiece for the Roadrunners in the period.

In the first half for the Roadrunners, Linton had one of her better performances of the season, tossing in 12 points and hustling for five rebounds. In winning the rebounding battle, Elyssa Coleman had six boards, while Linton and Udo banged inside for five apiece. UTSA hit 14 of 38 from the field for 36 percent.

The Lady Mavs guard Nya Threatt led the way with eight points on three of five shooting. Fleet guard Gia Adams scored six and Taliyah Clark and Avery Brittingham five apiece. UTA hit 13 of 33 from the field for 39 percent. Brittingham pulled down eight rebounds, but the Mavs were out-boarded, 26-18. UTA allowed UTSA to grab 10 boards off the offensive glass.


UTSA coach Karen Aston played 11 players. Nine of them scored and everyone contributed. Notably:

Kyra White, the star of UTSA’s victory at A&M-Corpus Christi, played heavy minutes for the second straight game. White played 43 minutes at Corpus Christi on Wednesday night and another 35 on Saturday. Against the Mavs, she took only six shots and scored five points. But she had six rebounds and a team-leading six assists.

Madison Cockrell, from Dallas Bishop Lynch in the DFW area, contributed three points and an assist in only eight minutes. Aysia Proctor, a freshman from San Antonio-area Clemens High, played only four minutes but she hit her only field goal attempt.

Guards Nya Threatt and Taliyah Clark and forward Avery Brittingham each scored 13 points for the Mavs. Threatt and Brittingham combined to hit four of nine from the three-point line, but the rest of the team wasn’t nearly as accurate, shooting one for 12.

UTA is coached by former Copperas Cove High School prep star Shereka Wright. After high school, she starred at Purdue, averaging 19.0, 18.9 and 20.1 points in her last three seasons with the Big Ten’s Boilermakers. Wright retired from the WNBA in 2006 after suffering a torn Achilles. At UT-Arlington, Wright is 47-36 as coach of the Mavs in a little more than three seasons.

UTA lost 76-61 on the road at South Florida of the American conference to open the season. Coming home, UTA was bounced 74-57 at the hands of the Lamar Cardinals. In Game 3, the Lady Mavs traveled to Austin on Tuesday and took a beating. The Longhorns beat the Lady Mavs 110-64.

Women’s basketball: UTSA leads D-I programs with four players from the S.A. area

Aysia Proctor at UTSA women's basketball practice on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Aysia Proctor is a UTSA freshman from Clemens High School. The Roadrunners open the season on the road tonight against the Arizona State Sun Devils. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

With NCAA Division I women’s basketball programs starting play today, it’s time to take a look at players from the San Antonio area.

Notably, I see that Carleigh Wenzel from O’Connor will be active at Virginia Tech this season after sitting out as a redshirt last year. Virginia Tech is one of the strongest programs in the nation, coming off a run to the Final Four. In addition, Deja Kelly, formerly of Johnson High School, is playing as a senior at North Carolina. Other SA-area players in so-called power conference programs include Texas A&M’s Sahara Jones, from Veterans Memorial, and TCU’s Aaliyah Roberson, from Clark. UTSA has assembled a strong contingent of four local players in Kyra White (Judson), Sidney Love (Steele), Alexis Parker (Brandeis) and Aysia Proctor (Clemens).

As usual, we’ll close by noting that this likely isn’t a list of every San Antonio female athlete playing at the highest level. But it’s gleaned partially from lists that I’ve published for a few years now, so, take it for what it’s worth. Naturally, I’ll update when new information comes to light.

San Antonio area athletes in NCAA Division I women’s basketball:

Hailey Adams, Rice, 6-1 guard, redshirt freshman from Clark HS

Myra Bell, UIW, 5-10 guard, senior from Taft HS

Layla Conley, Rice, 5-8 guard, freshman from Harlan HS

Jaylin Foster, Texas State, 6-0 forward, from Steele HS, transfer from Western Kentucky

Sahara Jones, Texas A&M, 6-0 guard, senior from Veterans Memorial

Sidney Love, UTSA, 5-8 guard, a sophomore from Steele HS

Ja’Shelle Johnson, UT Rio Grande Valley, a freshman from Johnson HS

Deja Kelly, North Carolina, 5-8 guard, a senior from San Antonio Johnson HS and Duncanville HS

Amira Mabry, Tulane, 6-0 forward, a sophomore from Judson HS

Aaliyah McMillan, UT Rio Grande Valley, 5-8 guard, RS sophomore from Steele HS; transfer from UT Arlington

Brenna Perez, UIW, 6-0 forward, senior from Veterans Memorial HS

Alexis Parker, UTSA, 5-9 guard, sophomore from Brandeis

Aysia Proctor, UTSA, 5-8 guard, freshman from Clemens

Tiffany Tullis, Texas State, 5-11 forward, junior from Cornerstone and Blinn College

Aaliyah Roberson, TCU, 6-2 forward, sophomore from Clark

Sammie Wagner, Oregon, 6-1 forward, redshirt freshman from Reagan

Carleigh Wenzel, Virginia Tech, 6-0 guard, redshirt freshman from O’Connor and Antonian

Kyra White, UTSA, 5-9 guard, a senior from Judson; transfer from USC

UTSA women win, 67-46, in exhibition against St. Mary’s

Kyra White. UTSA beat St. Mary's 67-46 in a women's basketball exhibition game on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Kyra White hit three 3-point baskets in the fourth quarter Wednesday as UTSA pulled away and downed San Antonio’s St Mary’s University, 67-46, in an exhibition game at the Convocation Center. White finished with a team-high 19 points. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Idara Udo. UTSA beat St. Mary's 67-46 in a women's basketball exhibition game on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman forward Idara Udo produced 16 points and eight rebounds in her first game at home. Seven of her rebounds came on the offensive glass. – Joe Alexander

Sidney Love. UTSA beat St. Mary's 67-46 in a women's basketball exhibition game on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore guard Sidney Love had 11 of her 14 points in the first quarter as UTSA took a 20-11 lead.. – Photo by Joe Alexander

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 have excelled lately even when Jenkins struggles

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freshman point guard Sidney Love

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

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

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

Junior guard Kyra White

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

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

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

Sophomore center Elyssa Coleman

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

Guard Hailey Atwood

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

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

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


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

C-USA women’s tournament

Friday’s semifinals

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

Saturday’s championship game

Friday’s winners, 4:30 p.m.