UTSA beats South Florida, 58-56, advances to the AAC semifinals

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Karen Aston. Temple defeated UTSA 56-48 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Karen Aston’s UTSA Roadrunners are two wins away from a conference championship after beating South Florida in the AAC quarterfinals on Monday. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Trailing by five points going into the fourth quarter, the fourth-seeded UTSA Roadrunners rallied late to down the No. 5 South Florida Bulls 58-56 Monday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference women’s postseason tournament.

With the win, UTSA will advance to play the East Carolina Pirates in the semifinals Tuesday in Fort Worth at Dickies Arena.

The Bulls, who lost by 23 to the Roadrunners in San Antonio in January, proved a much tougher opponent in the rematch. Guard Vittoria Blasigh scored 23 points. Forward Evelein Lutje Schipholt produced a double double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, and forward Romy Levi scored 11.

In response, the Roadrunners played in the fourth quarter with urgency and pulled it out. Forward Jordyn Jenkins, in her ninth game back after missing most of the season following knee surgery, led UTSA with 20 points. Jenkins and sophomore guard Siena Guttadauro emerged in the clutch with some key plays.

Both scored six points in the last period.

“Siena was huge,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said on the team’s radio broadcast. “I mean, she kind of gave us a deep breath. Jordyn got going better in the second half but I thought the biggest thing was Siena opening some things up for us, hitting those (two) threes.”

Midway through the fourth, momentum started to shift in UTSA’s favor. First, Guttadauro hit a three. After a timeout, Jenkins found a gap in the zone and tossed in a left-handed hook. Finally, Idara Udo scored inside off a feed from Jenkins. UTSA had a 49-45 lead with five minutes left.

Undaunted, the Bulls rallied with four straight points to tie it, with Levy knotting the score on a pullup. Later, UTSA again went to Guttadauro, who nailed another three from the left side. The Roadrunners had a 54-51 lead with 2:51 left.

Forward Daniela Gonzalez emerged late as a scoring threat for the Bulls. She hit two free throws with 2:26 remaining and then she knocked down a three with 48 seconds left to pull South Florida to within two.

A key sequence unfolded on UTSA’s next possession, with guard Kyra White called for charging, a questionable call given the South Florida defender appeared to be on the move as White drove toward the bucket.

Regardless, the turnover gave the ball to the Bulls, who trailed by two with 16 seconds remaining.

UTSA ultimately stopped South Florida twice to close it out. First, Levy couldn’t get off a shot on the three-point line, so she passed to Schipolt, who misfired with an elbow jumper. On the rebound, the ball was batted out of bounds. After an officials’ review, the Bulls gained possession again with one-tenth of a second left.

On the inbounds pass, Jenkins got a hand on it to end the game.

“The first game (of a tournament) is really hard, especially when the other team has already played,” Aston said. “I mean, I thought we were nervous today in shootaround. I’m not surprised we didn’t have some anxiety with the game. But we toughed it out. I think we’ll play better tomorrow.”

Jenkins, who transferred from USC to UTSA before the 2022-23 season, suffered an ACL knee injury last April and didn’t return to play until February 11 this season.

“It’s extremely special,” Jenkins said as she was named Player of the Game by Fort Worth Sports. “I’ve had a long, long road. It’s been a long comeback and I’ve just been excited to get back on the court and win stuff for my team.”

First half

Blasigh started scoring early and kept finding open spaces to get off her shot. With her confidence soaring, she tallied nine of her 16 first-half points in the second quarter as the South Florida Bulls took a 27-25 lead on the UTSA Roadrunners.

The first quarter was played on mostly even terms between the fourth-seeded Roadrunners and the fifth-seeded Bulls. The Roadrunners received a boost from Jordyn Jenkins as she scored seven points in the period, including a three with about a minute remaining. Evelein Lutje Schipholt hit a ju,per for South Florida with three seconds left. UTSA took a 16-15 lead into the second period.

The flow of the game started to tilt toward South Florida. Not only were the Bulls controlling the glass, particularly on the offensive end, but Blasigh was coming alive with her shot. With 2:40 remaining in the half, the Roadrunners took a 24-20 lead as Jenkins scored. From there, the Bulls controlled the game. Blasigh scored seven straight points for South Florida heading into the halftime break.

Third quarter

Just after halftime, South Florida forward Romi Levy came alive. She stole a pass on one end and motored the length of the court to score. Levy added another bucket on a pullup jumper as the Bulls made it a 33-30 game in their favor.

For UTSA, the offense started to bog down a little at this juncture. One missed jumper by one of the Roadrunners’ starting guards led to another possession in which an entry pass was easily stolen. After Schipolt hit two free throws for a 35-33 South Florida lead, UTSA missed another shot and then turned it over. Schipolt knocked down two more free throws, making it a four-point game.

Late in the quarter, Levy heated up again. She swished a three-pointer and then knocked in a long two. The second bucket in that sequence came with 2:20 showing. It gave her nine points in the quarter and boosted the Bulls into a a 42-36 lead. Jenkins scored down low with 1:52 left to keep the Roadrunners in it.

Ultimately, South Florida took a 45-40 lead fourth quarter.


South Florida 19-14
UTSA 17-13

Coming up

UTSA plays ninth-seeded East Carolina Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the AAC semifinals. The winner will advance to the title game, which will be played at 6 p.m. Wednesday. All games at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth.

Women’s basketball: AAC tournament title quest starts Monday for UTSA

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Hungry to prove that they belong as one of the favorites to win the championship, the fourth-seeded UTSA Roadrunners will open in the American Athletic Conference’s women’s basketball tournament today against the No. 5 South Florida Bulls.

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

The return of forward Jordyn Jenkins late in the season gives the UTSA Roadrunners another quality player leading into their first AAC tournament. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Tipoff in the AAC quarterfinals is set for 2 p.m. at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. In terms of which team will hit the floor with more motivation to win, it might be a toss-up.

On one hand, South Florida is a program with quite a bit of pride and tradition and a veteran coach in Jose Fernandez who knows how to win.

On top of that, the Bulls (19-13) may believe they have a score to settle with the Roadrunners (16-13), who beat them 65-42 on Jan. 16 in San Antonio.

On the flip side, while UTSA hasn’t done much in women’s basketball since back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 2008 and 2009, the Roadrunners also will come into their first AAC tournament with players who believe they haven’t quite received the respect they deserve.

Despite a 10-8 finish in the conference race, UTSA was shut out of individual honors when the all-conference teams were announced last week. Not one Roadrunners player made the first, second or third team.

Same thing with the all-newcomer team. UTSA didn’t have a representative listed. A few in the Roadrunners’ camp were so taken aback by the snub that they said very little in the way of a public response.

“I’m surprised,” Aston said. “That’s about all I know to to say.”

Clearly, players such as Elyssa Coleman, Kyra White, Sidney Love and freshmen Idara Udo and Aysia Proctor were key contributors on the first winning team at UTSA since 2015 and deserved some mention somewhere.

“I have a lot to say about that but I’m going to just keep it to myself,” Coleman said. “I think I’m going to internalize that. I think that’s what we’re all trying to do. Just internalize it and let that power us through the tournament.”

White brushed off the snub as not that important.

“Internally, it’s like, ‘Dang, I wish that teams out there would have seen what I’ve seen all year, looking at my (teammates) and playing with them,” she said. “But at the end of the day, those are the kind of things that aren’t really talked about a lot in our locker room.

“Our main goal is playing in March and holding up the American trophy. Those awards would have just been the cherry on top. So, we just want to go out there and win as a team and have fun together.”

Back in December, the Bulls were a bit shell-shocked when Sammie Puisis, a long-distance shooter and one of the standouts from the team’s 2022-23 title team, made it back into the lineup in December and then exited after one game with a knee injury.

When they arrived in San Antonio in January in the early stages of the conference race, they were still a bit uncertain who they were as a team. In addition, maybe they weren’t quite prepared mentally to face the physical play that they encountered from the home team at the UTSA Convocation Center.

In rebounding, the Roadrunners beat the Bulls on the boards, 55-33, including 20-12 on the offensive end. Moreover, UTSA held South Florida to 21.1 percent shooting, with Bulls stars Romi Levy and Vittoria Blasigh both held to 3 of 16 from the field.

UTSA blew the game open early, building a 21-point lead at halftime. In the third quarter, Blasigh hit a couple of threes late in the period, allowing the visitors to pull within 14 going into the fourth.

But after that, the Roadrunners kept applying the pressure, never allowing the visitors to come closer than 12. They outscored the Bulls 16-7, with White and Proctor each scoring five in the period.

Fernandez said Sunday night after his team’s victory over Wichita State that he likes his team’s position.

“We’re at 19 wins, with the adversity we’ve had,” the coach said. “Tomorrow, we’re going to have to play better. I think our team knows that. Our team understands that … Same thing I told our kids after non-conference, everything’s going to come down to Fort Worth. For everybody in our league. It’s going to be a one-bid league (to the NCAA tournament).

“So, everything we talked about then, is still in front of us.”


UTSA 16-13
South Florida 19-13

Coming up

Monday’s quarterfinals
(9) East Carolina vs. (1) Tulsa, noon
(5) South Florida vs. (4) UTSA, 2 p.m.
(10) Rice vs. (2) North Texas, 6 p.m.
(14) Tulane vs. (3) Temple, 8 p.m.

South Florida hits 18 triples and rolls past UTSA, 89-72

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Coming off a dramatic, one-point victory at home, the UTSA Roadrunners couldn’t conjure up the necessary magic to win on the road Saturday afternoon.

The South Florida Bulls romped to a 14-point halftime lead and then followed through with a convincing 89-72 victory at Tampa, Fla.

South Florida beat UTSA at its own game, using the 3-point shot to win going away. The Bulls hit 18 from long distance. Averaging 10 made triples per game for the season, UTSA was limited to 10 of 29 from beyond the arc.

Even then, the total was misleading because Roadrunners made three of them in the last four minutes when the game was already out of reach.

Kobe Knox, Chris Youngblood and Jose Placer did most of the damage for the Bulls, hitting four threes apiece. As a result, South Florida won its fifth straight game and improved its record to 11-1 overall since Dec. 9.

On the scoring chart, Knox had 18 points and Placer had 16. Youngblood and Selton Miguel had 15 apiece. For the game, the Bulls hit 32 of 60 from the field and 18 of 33 from 3-point territory.

The Bulls entered the game as one of only four teams with one loss in the American Athletic Conference, so they will keep pace with the leaders. The Roadrunners, meanwhile, continued their struggle to find consistency, falling to 3-9 in their last 12 games.

UTSA had lost some close ones during the skid, including a couple of them in overtime against nationally-ranked teams, one on the road at Memphis and another at home against Florida Atlantic. On the other hand, the Roadrunners also have lost twice by lopsided margins on the road.

They fell by 29 at Tulsa and now by 17 at South Florida.

“This game and the Tulsa game are going to be the ones that are really going to stick with us for awhile,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said on the team’s radio broadcast on KTKR AM-760. “We just didn’t compete hard enough.

“February is a monthy where if we play well and stay together, stay healthy, get Adante’ (Holiman) back at some point, I still think we can make some noise in February.”

Holiman, a sophomore guard, has missed seven games in a row with an ankle sprain.

Against South Florida, guard Jordan Ivy-Curry finished with 23 points on 8 of 16 shooting. He made 5 of 9 from long distance.

In a three-game stretch this week, Ivy-Curry scored a career-high 38 in a 112-103 overtime loss to Florida Atlantic, hit the winning bucket with 2.3 seconds left in an 89-88 victory over Tulane and then kept UTSA in the game against a South Florida team playing like a contender.

Carlton Linguard Jr., who exploded for a career-high 31 against Tulane, couldn’t find the range against South Florida. He was limted to 2 of 7 from the field and 1 of 4 from three. PJ Carter scored nine points, and Christian Tucker and Massal Diouf had eight each.

Tucker, the assists leader in the American, had six against the Bulls.

“We’ve had several games where we just don’t do a good job defending the three,” Henson said. “A lot of these were results of drive and kick, whether off penetration or zoom action turning the corner … They were kicking it for pretty good looks.

“A couple of ’em early were by guys who don’t shoot ’em great. But, man, when they started going, they were all knocking ’em in. Just not enough resistance on the defensive end.”


UTSA 8-13, 2-6
South Florida 13-5, 6-1

Coming up

Rice at UTSA, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2 p.m.

UTSA women roll past South Florida, 65-42, for their fourth straight victory

Kyra White. UTSA beat South Florida 65-42 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Former Judson High School standout Kyra White scored 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds and passed for six assists. White also keyed a defensive effort that limited the defending champions in the American Athletic Conference to 21.1 percent shooting from the field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

In a signature victory for women’s basketball at UTSA, the Roadrunners won their fourth straight game in the American Athletic Conference Tuesday night, pulling away at the end for a dominant 65-42 decision over the South Florida Bulls at the Convocation Center.

After the victory, led offensively by guards Kyra White and Aysia Proctor, the Roadrunners improved to 10-7 overall and 4-2 in conference play. The loss dropped the AAC’s defending regular-season champions to 11-8 and 3-3.

White, a senior guard from Judson, put together a masterful performance against the preseason favorites in the conference. She produced 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Proctor, a freshman guard from Clemens, had 19 points and eight boards.

Aysia Proctor. UTSA beat South Florida 65-42 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Hot-shooting Aysia Proctor produced 19 points and eight rebounds for UTSA against South Florida. The freshman from Clemens High School has hit nine 3-pointers in the last two games. She finished four for six from distance on Tuesday night. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In rebounding, one of the team’s specialties, the Roadrunners sent everyone to the glass and beat the Bulls on the boards, 55-33, including 20-12 on the offensive end. Moreover, UTSA held South Florida to 21.1 percent shooting, with Romi Levy and Vittoria Blasigh both held to three of 16.

Levy finished with 12 points and Blasigh 11.

After the game, some around the AAC might have been wondering about a few things. First, how did UTSA dig down to summon the physical presence to beat two of the most highly-regarded teams in the conference in a span of three days?

Not only did the Roadrunners win in double overtime Sunday afternoon against the Charlotte 49ers, who were undefeated in conference when they arrived in San Antonio, but they also showed enough maturity not to let it get to their heads.

They set aside the emotions from a tense, 81-80 victory over Charlotte and focused on what they had to do against South Florida, a nine-time NCAA tournament team under Coach Jose Fernandez.

All of which begs the other question — where did that sort of take-no-prisoners mentality come from?

A proud third-year UTSA coach Karen Aston tried to explain, saying that her team is just “embracing playing together and working hard together.” She added that she doesn’t know if her players fully understand what they have done.

Idara Udo. UTSA beat South Florida 65-42 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Idara Udo, who scored a career-high 26 points on Sunday against Charlotte, played through foul trouble to .produce seven points and six rebounds against South Florida. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“This is a really huge win,” Aston said. “I have an unbelievable amount of respect for Jose (and) what he’s done in the American conference. You know, I think they’ve won conference the last three years. They are a perennial NCAA tournament team. He is a hell of a coach.

“…I thought just the maturity … (of) being able to play in a double-overtime game, and have it happen the way it happened, and then turn around (in two days) and focus — we’re growing. We’re growing up.”

As for the Roadrunners’ physical toughness on display, White echoed comments from her teammates that a rigorous summer offseason program has made a difference this season, and that it showed up again against both the 49ers and the Bulls.

“Right before the season, we had a little six-week boot camp,” White said. “It was one of the toughest things that I have accomplished in my life. And so, just being able to reflect back on that during the game — sometimes in the huddle people will bring it up (that) we’ve done all these (summer) runs for fourth quarters, for double overtimes.”

Back in the summer, the players would undergo sessions of weight lifting in the Roadrunner Athletic Center for Excellence, followed immediately by a series of sprints and assorted aerobic workouts on a field outside.

Recalled Proctor: “Man, it was hard. It was my first time. Some days I wanted to quit, but I had to fight through it and keep my head in it. It was a mental thing.” Now that the summer time has passed and the season has started and progressed to more than half the way through, does she feel it paying off now?

“For sure,” Proctor said. “For sure.”

Cheyenne Rowe. UTSA beat South Florida 65-42 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Reserve forward Cheyenne Rowe comes up with a loose ball against South Florida. – Photo by Joe Alexander


South Florida 11-8, 3-3
UTSA 10-7, 4-2

Coming up

UTSA at UAB, Sunday, 1 p.m.


After each UTSA victory, a player is awarded a gaudy, gold necklace, engraved with the phrase, “Cash In.” White was wearing the bling on Tuesday night. Hinting at heightened expectations now that the team has won four straight, White said “we want to hold up things bigger than this” after the season. A championship trophy, perhaps? Some around the program would likely be happy with just a winning record. UTSA hasn’t had one since 2015. Even with the team only three games over .500, the Roadrunners have started to turn the program in the right direction. Since late January of last season, UTSA is now 19-11.

First quarter

The Roadrunners out-played the South Florida Bulls in every way — in rebounding, shooting, hustling for loose balls, you name it — as they surged into to a 20-7 lead after one quarter.

Nissa Sam-Grant. UTSA beat South Florida 65-42 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Six-foot-four center Nissa Sam-Grant played eight minutes off the bench and scored four points on two of three shooting from the field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

First half

If fans at the Convocation Center thought the Roadrunners might be a little sluggish after playing a two-overtime game on Sunday, they were wrong.

They came out with high energy and out-played the Bulls at every turn, taking a 37-16 lead into the dressing room at intermission.

Former San Antonio area prep stars Kyra White and Aysia Proctor did the damage on the offensive end with a combined 24 points.

White had 13 on five of eight shooting, while Proctor contributed 11 on four of seven. Both of them knocked down three from the 3-point arc.

On the defensive end, the Roadrunners also played well, holding the Bulls to four of 25 shooting from the field. UTSA outrebounded South Florida, 28-12, including 9-3 on the offensive glass.

Third quarter

South Florida rallied in the period behind point guard Vittoria Blasigh, who scored eight points and hit a couple of 3-pointers. Trailing by 25 at one point, the Bulls started a comeback. They put together a 14-2 run capped by a pair of Blasigh triples to cut it to 13. When the quarter came to an end, UTSA held a 49-35 advantage, but the Bulls had some hope.

Fourth quarter

Unfazed by the Bulls’ run in the third period, the Roadrunners dominated in the final 10 minutes, winning it 16-7. They held the visitors to three of 16 from the field. Trying to play catch up, the Bulls fired off nine 3-pointers and made just one. Offensively, both White and Proctor scored five points apiece.

Kyra White. UTSA beat South Florida 65-42 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Guard Kyra White puts the pressure on South Florida’s defense with a drive into the painted area. White totaled 32 points, 18 rebounds and 15 assists in UTSA victories over Charlotte and South Florida. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA to host South Florida, a traditional power in AAC women’s basketball

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Riding a three-game winning streak, the upstart UTSA women’s basketball team will play host to one of the traditional powers in the American Athletic Conference tonight.

Veteran coach Jose Fernandez and the South Florida Bulls (11-7, 3-2) will take on the Roadrunners (9-7, 3-2) at 6:30 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

Fernandez has led the Bulls as coach since November of 2000. In 23 plus seasons, he has guided the program to a 454-299 record and nine NCAA tournaments, including eight in the past 11 years.

Last season, the Bulls won the AAC’s regular-season title with only one loss in the regular season.

In spite of a first-round loss in the AAC tournament, they received an NCAA bid and won a game in the first round against Marquette. In the round of 32, they lost by 31 points to top-seeded South Carolina and finished 27-7.

UTSA, meanwhile, has had only modest and sporadic success since the inception of the program in 1981-82.

Though the Roadrunners reached NCAA tournaments in 2008 and 2009, they’ve struggled since 2015 with eight straight losing records.

UTSA, in its third season under Coach Karen Aston, has shown marked improvement of late. The Roadrunners have surged to an 18-11 record since late January of last season.

Included in the stretch of success is a 9-4 finish to the 2022-23 season, in which they won twice in the postseason and reached the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament.

This year, they’ve overcome the loss of injured star Jordyn Jenkins to win three games in a row in the AAC.

The Roadrunners capped the streak with a dramatic, double-overtime win at home over the Charlotte 49ers on Sunday.

In that game, freshman forward Idara Udo hit the game-winning shot on a putback with 1.8 seconds remaining.


South Florida 11-7, 3-2
UTSA 9-7, 3-2

Coming up

UTSA at UAB, Sunday, 1 p.m.


Like UTSA, South Florida is also playing without an injured star player. It was announced on Dec. 14 that guard Sammie Puisis would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Last season, Puisis was the AAC’s Newcomer of the Year and second-team all-conference after averaging 15.5 points per game.

Freshman guard Vittoria Blasigh is playing well for USF. She earned her fourth AAC Freshman of the Week honor this week. She is coming off a 35-point performance against Tulsa, followed by a 26-point outing against Rice on Sunday.