Coleman scores 23 as UTSA rolls past the UTEP Miners, 90-66

Elyssa Coleman. UTSA beat UTEP 90-66 in women's basketball at the Convocation Center on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. - Photo by Joe Alexander

The Roadrunners improved to 5-3 on the season after Elyssa Coleman produced a career-high 23 points, while also snaring eight rebounds, in a 24-point victory over the UTEP Miners Sunday afternoon.- Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Elyssa Coleman and the UTSA Roadrunners hated the feeling that they had a few days ago after losing at home to the Texas State Bobcats.

They made amends on Sunday afternoon at the Convocation Center, rolling to a season-high in points with a 90-66 victory over the UTEP Miners.

As Coleman poured in a career-high 23, the Roadrunners shot 58.3 percent from the field and routed the Miners in front of an announced crowd of 926. Coleman also pulled down eight rebounds in perhaps her best game in three years at UTSA.

Siena Guttadauro. UTSA beat UTEP 90-66 in women's basketball at the Convocation Center on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Siena Guttadauro scored 12 points on four-of-five shooting from 3-point distance. Over her last two games, the sharpshooter from California has scored 23 points on seven threes. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Last Thursday night, UTSA tipped off against the Bobcats after returning home from a four-game road swing. The result wasn’t what the Roadrunners wanted, a 65-57 loss in overtime.

Coleman said the outcome stung the players, who were still angry about it when they left the arena.

“(We) knew that wasn’t our 100 percent (best) effort,” she said. “That’s what we came out here and did today. We showed 100 percent effort.”

Against UTEP, UTSA attacked early and never slowed down. The Roadrunners led 26-13 at the end of one quarter, by 48-31 at intermission and by as many as 29 points late in the game.

Coleman paced the Roadrunners with 11 of 13 shooting from the field, including nine for 10 in the first half when she scored 19 points.

Five of her first-half field goals were from the perimeter, including one from the corner that counted as a three-pointer just before intermission.

“I got lucky,” she said. “I been praying a lot, and it’s Sunday. It’s God’s day. So that’s what I’m (attributing) it to.”

Coleman said UTSA players also found inspiration in a post-game event for Mia Perez, a 10-year-old cancer patient. The Roadrunners had a signing ceremony of sorts to welcome her to the team.

Actually, the players have known Perez since the beginning of last season.

“She’s here almost every home game,” Coleman said. “We’ve seen her at some football games when our whole team goes. We’ll have little events for her when we have time. In the preseason, we probably hang out with her more, probably once every two weeks.”

Sidney Love. UTSA beat UTEP 90-66 in women's basketball at the Convocation Center on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Point guard Sidney Love had another solid game with 16 points and seven assists. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Coleman said Perez’s presence on Sunday gave the Roadrunners a lift.

“Mia’s perseverance in her journey is nothing that we would ever come close to on the court,” Coleman said. “So I feel like, if she can do that, then what is basketball? It shouldn’t be that hard.”

Several other Roadrunners played well against the Miners, notably point guard Sidney Love, who had 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Kyra White, another starter, had 12 points and seven assists. Siena Guttadauro, playing the role of spark plug off the bench, also pumped in 12 points and hit four of five from the 3-point arc.

As a team, UTSA sank 44.4 percent from three (eight of 18) and 80 percent from the free-throw line (12 of 15).

A player that caught UTSA coach Karen Aston’s eye was 6-foot-4 center Nissa Sam-Grant, who had four points, three rebounds and three blocked shots in 14 minutes.

“I thought she was pretty decent tonight,” the coach said.

Last season, Sam-Grant was in school and practicing with the team, but she did not play in games. Working out in those practice sessions last season, the Canada native first raised eyebrows with her potential.

Nissa Sam-Grant. UTSA beat UTEP 90-66 in women's basketball at the Convocation Center on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Nissa Sam-Grant posted career highs of 14 minutes and three blocked shots. – Photo by Joe Alexander

But as this season started, she has has not played much — only in five games, in which she has averaged five minutes.

“We kind of expected more at the beginning (of this season), than what she was giving us,” Aston said, “but I think some of that is, she just sat out for a long time. It’s taken her awhile to get into game mode and really kind of push herself.

“Kids get kind of stagnant when they sit out for awhile. I think we’re starting to see some glimpses of what I thought she could do for our team. Hopefully this gives her some confidence.”

Guard Aaliyah Stanton led UTEP with 17 points, three assists and three steals.

Records

UTSA 5-3
UTEP 4-5

Coming up

Houston at UTSA, Dec. 14, 6 p.m.

Kyleigh Aguirre. UTSA beat UTEP 90-66 in women's basketball at the Convocation Center on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Senior Kyleigh McGuire had four points and four rebounds in seven minutes – Photo by Joe Alexander

Notable

UTSA women’s basketball is finally starting to string together some consistent winning over a period of months. Since Jan. 28 of last season, the Roadrunners have fashioned a record of 14-7.

Last spring, they went 9-4 to the end of the season. This season, they have tacked on a 5-3 record. Two of the losses were on the road at Power 5 programs (Arizona State and Texas Tech).

Jordyn Jenkins, who led UTSA with 20.6 points a game last year, still has not played this season as she attempts to come back from a knee injury. Before games, Jenkins has been engaged in some light shooting drills with a coach but does not participate in warmups with her teammates. UTSA coach Karen Aston said “we’re still a little bit away” from her return to practice or games.

“She’s looking real good but we’re not going to rush her,” the coach said. “Too many people rush kids back, and that’s not our intention with her. There’s no timeline right now.”

UTSA senior Hailey Atwood was honored last summer with a Teammate of the Year award by Team Impact for her efforts in befriending Mia Perez. Team Impact is a nonprofit that pairs collegiate athletes with kids with disabilities or severe illnesses. Both Atwood and Perez traveled to Boston last June to be recognized.

The Roadrunners’ scoring total against the Miners was the program’s highest since 2017. UTSA hadn’t hit the 90-point mark in a game since Nov. 10, 2017. On that day, the Roadrunners downed Division III Sul Ross, 97-47. In the previous season, on Feb. 25, 2017, the Roadrunners won at home against a Division I opponent, the FAU Owls, by a score of 97-66.

JB’s video replay

UTEP wins 77-66, extends UTSA’s losing streak to 11 games

Japhet Medor. UTSA men's basketball lost to UTEP 77-66 on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Japhet Medor scored a team-high 20 points for the Roadrunners, who fell to the UTEP Miners 77-66 for their 11th straight loss. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

With the UTSA Roadrunners moving to the American Athletic Conference next season and the UTEP Miners staying in Conference USA, a possibility loomed that Saturday’s men’s basketball matchup between the in-state rivals might be the last one for awhile.

If it was, the Miners seized bragging rights with a strong second half and a 77-66 C-USA road victory at the Convocation Center. In doing so, UTEP ended one losing streak (its own, of four games) and extended another (UTSA’s, now 11 games.)

UTEP's Ze'Rik Onyema, who played at Jay High School in San Antonio, at the Miners' game against UTSA at the Convocation Center on Feb. 11, 2023. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Center Ze’Rik Onyema returned to San Antonio where he played in high school at John Jay and contributed 10 points and nine rebounds for the UTEP Miners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Miners took control midway through the second half on the strength of a run powered by reserve forward Jon Dos Anjos.

The 6-foot-8 Brazilian hit two long three-pointers and added a dunk after his own offensive rebound — all in a span of 67 seconds.

After Dos Anjos retrieved a missed free throw and threw down an emphatic jam, the Miners increased their lead to 11 with 9:23 remaining.

The Roadrunners, who haven’t won since Jan. 5, seemed deflated after the play. They never were able to pull any closer than nine the rest of the way.

A check of the record books indicated that UTEP has won five in a row against UTSA and leads the series 16-10, including 2-0 this year.

Will the two teams play on, even after they go their own separate ways in conference affiliation? UTEP coach Joe Golding said he’d “definitely” be open to keeping the rivalry alive.

“We’re disappointed that you guys are leaving,” Golding said. “But I think there are some good rivalries here (in the C-USA). Obviously this is one that’s really important. It’s been played for a long time, so, maybe it’s something (UTSA coach) Steve (Henson) and I could talk about after the year.

Jacob Germany. UTSA men's basketball lost to UTEP 77-66 on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA center Jacob Germany hit six of 10 shots from the field and scored 14 points for the Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“Obviously, it makes sense. It’s easy to get here. It’s an hour and ten minute flight. I think it’d be good to keep it going.”

Curiously, Dos Anjos seemingly has been able to cast a spell over the Roadrunners, and he’s done it twice this year.

On Jan. 11 in El Paso, the transfer from Florida Southwestern College came off the bench to score 10 points in 12 minutes of a 69-57 victory over UTSA. On Saturday afternoon, he scored 12 points in 19 minutes.

“He hasn’t showed up any other time of the year, man,” Golding said. “But he did it at our place (against the Roadrunners) and he did it again tonight.”

Early in the game, UTSA players seemed out of sorts, like they weren’t quite ready for the physical struggle that awaited them.

Throwing some soft passes, the Roadrunners had eight turnovers in the opening minutes. After that, UTEP dominated on the glass and continued the assault for 40 minutes. The Miners finished with a 44-24 edge in rebounds, including 16-2 on the offensive end.

Henson, seated in the UTSA interview room afterward, glanced at a box score and said that taking care of possessions and competing for rebounds were two areas that had been disccussed in practice as keys to winning the game.

Steve Henson. UTSA men's basketball lost to UTEP 77-66 on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson (second from left) lamented in postgame interviews his team’s lack of success on the boards. The UTEP Miners outrebounded the Roadrunners, 44-24, including 16-2 on the offensive glass – Photo by Joe Alexander

“The turnovers, disappointed with those, but more so with the rebounding,” Henson said. “That’s just absolutely focus and effort. It just wasn’t good enough. They got way too many offensive rebounds. We didn’t get nearly enough.”

Almost as surprising as UTEP’s wide margin in controlling the boards was its slight edge in three-point shooting.

The Miners, who make about 28 percent of their shots behind the arc, hit eight of 19 threes for 42 percent. On the flip side, it’s mystifying how the Roadrunners can make only six of 22, for 27 percent, on a home court where they practiced four times earlier this week.

Some of UTSA’s deficiency in that area may stem from its own lack of offensive rebounding, which tends to lend itself to quick pitchouts for open shots. Henson credited UTSA’s long-distance shooting woes to UTEP’s defensive style.

“I think part of it is, they just do a good job of chasing guys off the line,” Henson said. “They force your hand a little bit. If you do get some penetration, they’re going to come over and help. They do skip it out and chase you off the three-point line.”

Historically, it’s just been a bad stretch for the Roadrunners.

The losing streak started on Jan. 7 with a 10-point home loss to Western Kentucky. It continued through last week, with a seven-point setback to the same WKU team on Feb. 2 and then a 24-point loss Feb. 4 at Middle Tennessee State.

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah. UTSA men's basketball lost to UTEP 77-66 on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah scored nine points off the bench for the Roadrunners. He hit three of six on 3-pointers on a night when the team made only six of 22. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Now the streak stands at 11, two more than the previous record nine-game skid that the team suffered near the end of the 2015-16 season.

“We needed this one bad,” Henson said. “Guys have done a pretty good job of hanging in there. It’ll be a tough bounce back here on Monday, and now (we’ll have to) see how our guys respond.

“Losing wears on a team,” the coach continued. “We’ve talked about it a lot (that) this is maybe the group with the most character and leadership that I’ve ever been around. But still, it’s just, like, continuing to get beat down.

“It’s going to be hard to keep this group pumped up without getting that win at some point.”

With the talent on the Roadrunners, it’s apparent nearly four months into the season that room for error is ever-so-slim, and a strong, focused effort is required every night.

“This game spells it out,” Henson said. “It was an effort battle here. Yeah, we didn’t shoot it well. That’s fair. That’s frustrating, when we got our good shooters not shooting it well.

“But we can’t get out-rebounded like that. We can’t turn the ball over like that. It’s just putting yourselves in an impossible situation … giving them so many more shots at the basket, just because they’re rebounding it.”

Christian Tucker. UTSA men's basketball lost to UTEP 77-66 on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Christian Tucker played hard on both ends of the floor and finished with 11 points and three assists. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Records

UTEP 12-13, 5-9
UTSA 7-19, 1-14

Coming up

UTSA at Rice, Feb. 16, 7 p.m.
UAB at UTSA, Feb. 18, 3 p.m.

Individuals

UTEP — Tae Hardy, 12 points and five assists. Jon Dos Anjos, 12 points, five rebounds. Malik Zachery, 11 points on four of five shooting. Ze’rik Onyema, 10 points and nine rebounds. On three of five shooting. Otis Frazier III, 10 points. Calvin Solomon, eight points, eight rebounds, three on offensive glass.

UTSA — Japhet Medor, 20 points, four assists. Also, five for seven from the field and 10 for 10 at the free throw line. Jacob Germany, 14 points, seven rebounds. Christian Tucker, 11 points, three assists, two rebounds.

UTEP men's basketball coach Joe Golding at the Miners' game against UTSA at the Convocation Center on Feb. 11, 2023. - Photo by Joe Alexander

With UTSA set to switch to the American Athletic Conference next year, and with UTEP staying in Conference USA, the schools will need to reach an agreement to keep playing. UTEP coach Joe Golding said he’s ‘definitely’ interested in talking about it after the season. — Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Carlton Linguard will have two seasons to play, starting in 2023-24

UTSA men's basketball player Carlton Linguard Jr. at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA center Carlton Linguard, Jr., won’t play for the Roadrunners this season but will have two years of eligibility remaining starting in 2023-24. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Seven-foot center Carlton Linguard Jr. and UTSA have elected to suspend pursuit of an NCAA waiver that would have allowed him to play in the second half of this season.

“It just got to the point that he really wants a full season, two full seasons,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said Friday. “It was just taking too long. It was going to count as a year whether he played 10 games, or 16 games. So we just made a decision to save it.”

Linguard, formerly of San Antonio’s Stevens High School, arrived at UTSA last summer academically ineligible after playing previously at Kansas State. Initially, he was ineligible to be on scholarship.

At the semester break, UTSA was able to give him the scholarship but still didn’t have the OK to play him.

Eventually, UTSA elected to suspend pursuit of the appeal. With the decision, it means that Linguard is expected to have two years of eligibility remaining to play for the Roadrunners, for both the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons.

“It’s good for the future,” Henson said. “Sure would like to have him (Saturday) at 3 o’clock.”

UTSA hosts the UTEP Miners Saturday at 3 p.m.

Henson said Linguard is feeling good physically after rehabilitating a knee injury last fall and working his way back from a concussion after the New Year.

“It’s good for him,” Henson said. “He doesn’t have any issues with his knee and (hasn’t) in weeks and weeks and weeks. The concussion stuff is behind him now. I told him the other day, ‘Let’s start treating this like the preseason.

“He’s got some good leadership qualities in addition to his presence on the court. Just need to start picturing himself as being a big key to what we’re doing, even though he’s not playing yet.”

Coming up

UTEP at UTSA, Saturday, at 3 p.m.

Records

UTEP 11-12, 4-8
UTSA 7-18, 1-13

Notable

UTSA has lost 10 in a row, the longest losing streak in school history. The Roadrunners lost twice last week, at Western Kentucky and at Middle Tennessee. WKU beat UTSA 81-74. Middle Tennessee won the battle of the boards, forced 21 turnovers, and won, 84-60. Previously, the longest losing streak in program history was nine. UTSA dropped nine straight near the end of the 2015-16 season.

UTEP wins 74-67 as UTSA’s Jordyn Jenkins scores 37

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA women's basketball lost to UTEP 74-67 in Conference USA on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA standout Jordyn Jenkins (at right) drives on UTEP’s Avery Crouse Wednesday night in Conference USA women’s basketball at the Convocation Center. Jenkins finished with 37 points and 11 rebounds. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Forward Elina Arike converted a three-point play and guard Jazion Jackson added a three-point shot in the last two minutes Wednesday night, helping the UTEP Miners hold off the UTSA Roadrunners 74-67 in Conference USA women’s basketball.

In what may have been one of the top individual performances in school history, UTSA forward Jordyn Jenkins scored a career-high 37 points for the Roadrunners, who lost their third straight. Jenkins hit 15 of 22 shots from the field, including three of four from beyond the arc. She also pulled down 11 rebounds.

Sidney Love. UTSA women's basketball lost to UTEP 74-67 in Conference USA on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA freshman guard Sidney Love finished with seven points, six rebounds and five assists. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“She’s a very skilled basketball player,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said. “She puts in the work. This is a player who gets to practice an hour early and does everything she wants to do individually before it’s time for the team, and that’s what really good basketball players do.”

While Jenkins soared to her best performance in her first season at UTSA, the Miners (11-3, 4-1) outplayed the Roadrunners (3-11, 1-4) in several areas.

The visitors had better balance with their scoring, with Jackson notching 19 points to lead four players in double figures. Arike had 15 points, while N’Yae Boyd contributed 12 and Erin Wilson came off the bench to add 11.

Additionally, the Miners shot it well from three-point distance (six of 10), with Jackson drilling all three of her attempts from beyond the stripe. UTEP also showed a good sense of when to drive it and how to get fouled. UTEP went to the line 39 times and made 26.

Other than Jenkins, UTSA didn’t have anyone else in double digit scoring. Hailey Atwood scored eight points, while Kyra White and Sidney Love each scored seven apiece. Running the team at the point guard, White, probably a more natural player on the wing, shot three of 14 from the field.

The Roadrunners were getting open looks at the three-point line, but hit only six of 19. They also struggled to get to the line, making 11 of 16.

Hailey Atwood. UTSA women's basketball lost to UTEP 74-67 in Conference USA on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Guard Hailey Atwood had eight points, two rebounds, an assist and a steal.- Photo by Joe Alexander

Even though UTSA has lost three in a row and six of seven, Aston is not discouraged. She knows it will take time for a team playing two and three freshmen at a time to become a consistent winner.

“I wish we had the first half back,” the coach said. “I didn’t think we shared the ball, and it’s not intentional. It’s just everybody wanting to make a play. We just weren’t patient enough. We were a little bit antsy. Some of that’s youth and being in different roles.

“But I definitely think that every game, we’re growing. We’re playing a lot of young players in a lot of situations. Today, I really thought Maddie (Cockrell) gave us some good minutes off the bench. Lex (Parker) is starting to get comfortable again …

“I mean, those guys just have to learn in the fire. They made some mistakes, that a month from now, if we keep coaching them, they may not be making those same mistakes.”

For Jenkins, an all-Pac 12 player last year at Southern Cal, the game served as another step forward in her burgeoning UTSA career. It was her second game with 30 or more points (she had 35 at Houston on Dec. 19) and her seventh with 20 or more.

“I guess it was bittersweet,” she said. “getting my career high but still losing. I think we made a lot of progress on the court, though. We tend to be a little more immature on the road … not working as well together.

“But I feel at home, I feel like we’ve got a really good connection and a really good bond on the court. It’s nothing really negative when we lose. Yeah, it’s only bitter because we got the ‘L.’ But it’s sweet because everyone played hard and worked hard and talked to each other.”

Notable

Last spring, center Elyssa Coleman had 21 points and 11 rebounds as UTSA upset UTEP 58-57 in the first round of the C-USA tournament. Coming off a case of strep throat that kept her out of practice Tuesday, Coleman finished with two points and three rebounds in the rematch. “I’m really appreciative that she played for her team today,” Aston said.

Records

UTSA 3-11, 1-4
UTEP 11-3, 4-1

Coming up

Charlotte at UTSA, Saturday, 2 p.m.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA women's basketball lost to UTEP 74-67 in Conference USA on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jordyn Jenkins protects the rim and registers one of her three blocked shots. – – Photo by Joe Alexander

Crunch time

With 2:21 remaining, UTSA’s Coleman took it insde and scored to make it a one-point game. But UTEP, leading 63-62, started to make big play after big play to put the game out of reach. First, Arike drove to the bucket, hit a shot and was fouled. Not only did Arike make the free throw, but it was Coleman’s fifth foul, sending her to the bench.

Next, the Roadrunners turned it over on an offensive foul, and on the other end the Miners swung the ball to Jackson on the left wing. Her three-pointer lifted UTEP into a 69-62 lead with 1:02 left. UTSA could get no closer than four the rest of the way.

First half

Guard Erin Wilson came off the bench to score nine points as the Miners surged into a 35-25 lead. The Roadrunners shot 33 percent in the half and, except for Jenkins, failed to establish much on the offensive end. UTSA’s starting backcourt hit only 3 of 15 from the field. Jenkins carried the load with 15 points. The junior transfer from USC hit 6 of 9 shots in the first 20 minutes.

Trailing 17-9 after one quarter, the Roadrunners found a rhythm early in the second. They outscored the Miners 10-2 in the opening minutes to tie the game. With three minutes left in the half, Love scored on a drive, chopping a UTEP lead down to two points. From there, the Miners went on a 10-2 run to the buzzer. Wilson scored seven points in the run including a three from the corner with 1:22 remaining.

JB’s video replay

UTSA beats UTEP in overtime in C-USA women’s tournament

Trailing by 13 points late in the first quarter, the UTSA Roadrunners kept plugging away and eventually edged the UTEP Miners 58-57 in overtime Tuesday in a Conference USA women’s basketball tournament opener.

With the victory, UTSA advanced to the next round to play Old Dominion on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

UTSA entered the tournament as the seventh seed in the C-USA West. Old Dominion is seeded third in the East.

Redshirt freshman Elyssa Coleman led the Roadrunners with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Graduate student Jadyn Pimentel had 14 points, six rebounds and six steals. Junior Charlene Mass hit the second of two free throws with three seconds left for the victory.

Junior Destiny Thurman scored 23 for the Miners, who were seeded sixth in the East.

Records

UTSA 7-22, 3-14
UTEP 14-15, 6-12

UTEP wins 59-54 to sweep two conference games from UTSA

Darius McNeill. UTEP beat UTSA 59-54 on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022 at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners lost their sixth straight game Sunday afternoon despite a stirring performance from senior Darius McNeill, who scored 14 of his 20 points in a second-half rally. – Photo by Joe Alexander

For the first three minutes Sunday afternoon at the UTSA Convocation Center, both the home team Roadrunners and the visiting UTEP Miners charged up and down the court, struggling to find their footing.

Locked in a tie game with the Miners, the Roadrunners weren’t gaining much ground, but neither were they losing it.

Jacob Germany. UTEP beat UTSA 59-54 on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022 at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany had a tough day against the Miners with six points on 3 of 12 shooting. The Miners were determined not to let him get going after he produced 21 points and 10 boards Thursday in El Paso. – Photo by Joe Alexander

It was about that time when things started to unravel for the home team. UTSA misfired on 18 of its next 22 shot attempts over the next 14 minutes, allowing UTEP to break away and ultimately claim a 59-54 victory in a defensive struggle.

Do-it-all UTEP guard Jamal Bieniemy produced 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists as hard-luck UTSA lost its sixth straight, including two in four days to the Miners.

UTSA shot just 32 percent in the first half and, despite a Darius McNeill-led run late in the game, never could dig itself out of the hole completely. Roadrunners coach Steve Henson acknowledged that 34.5 percent shooting isn’t good enough.

“It’s been the story in too many” games this season, he said. “I mean, our guys really did some good things defensively these last two ball games. Made a lot of adjustments. We changed our defenses, mixed our defenses up.”

In limiting the Miners to 40 percent shooting Sunday afternoon, the Roadrunners also won the rebounding battle, including 14-7 on the offensive glass, and made as many free throws (12) as the visitors attempted.

“But our turnovers early just led to easy buckets for them,” Henson said. “It allowed them to get a little lead on us. There were a lot of other things there that gave us a chance to win. We’re just struggling to get the ball in the hole right now.”

Records

UTEP 11-8, 4-3
UTSA 7-13, 0-7

Coming up

Thursday — Florida International at UTSA, 7 p.m.
Saturday — Florida Atlantic at UTSA, 1 p.m.

Notable

A little more than a third of the way through the conference season, the Roadrunners remain a team in transition, struggling from game to game and week to week for a playing rotation that can win games.

At the start of the month, they lost leading scorer Dhieu Deing, who elected to pursue a professional career, followed by leading rebounder Cedrick Alley, Jr. (academically ineligible) and also promising reserve forward Aleu Aleu (right leg injury).

Josh Farmer. UTEP beat UTSA 59-54 on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022 at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Josh Farmer returned from Covid protocols to score four points in 10 minutes against the Miners.- Photo by Joe Alexander

With all three out for the season, the Roadrunners also have encountered Covid-19 issues dating back to the last two weeks of December. Jordan Ivy-Curry, Josh Farmer and Christian Tucker were the latest victims. They all sat out UTSA’s 69-64 loss at UTEP on Thursday in El Paso.

While Farmer and Tucker returned to play on Sunday, Ivy-Curry, perhaps the team’s best perimeter player, remained out for the fourth straight game.

When the team returns to practice Tuesday, Ivy-Curry is expected to be on the floor in preparation for home games later in the week against Florida International and Florida Atlantic.

Quotable

“We’ve been fighting different things all year — injuries, Covid,” Henson said. “This week was tough because of the numbers. We didn’t have enough to practice early in the week. (But) guys stepped up and did a great job at El Paso, with eight guys total, six scholarship guys.

“We added two more today (Tucker and Farmer) but those guys practiced yesterday for the first time in a week.

“Everybody (in the country) is dealing with different things. We’ve got a couple of season-ending injuries. We’re short-handed. But we put ourselves in position to win both games, Thursday and today. We just got to find a way to do it.”

McNeil’s resurgence

Without Ivy-Curry on the floor in El Paso or in San Antonio, the Miners saw quite a bit of McNeill, a transfer who has played at both Cal and at SMU.

McNeill hit 7 of 12 shots from the field and scored 19 in the first game. He followed that effort in the rematch by scoring 20 points on 7 of 15 shooting. McNeill is shooting 44 percent and averaging seven points for the season.

“Good player,” first-year UTEP coach Joe Golding said. “(He’s) obviously talented and has played at some high levels. You can tell he wants to win. You can tell he’s invested, and it means something to him.”

Turning the corner?

Like the Roadrunners, the Miners have experienced their share of adversity this season. Coming into the series against UTSA, they had lost 26 man-games to injury or illness, including Christian Agnew (six), Keonte Kennedy (five) and Souley Boum (four).

Kennedy didn’t play either game against UTSA, while Agnew played sparingly in both. Boum started and played well in both outings, allowing the Miners to sweep the regular-season series against the Roadrunners for the first time since 2014-15. UTEP is now on a three-game winning streak.

Ze’Rik Onyema from San Antonio and Jay High School had four points and two rebounds off the bench for UTEP on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, at UTSA. The Miners beat UTSA 59-54 at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTEP freshman Ze’Rik Onyema from San Antonio and Jay High School had four points and two rebounds off the bench for UTEP on Sunday. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“We’re finding different ways to win, which is good,” Golding said. “We’re starting to get some consistency in practice. We’ve had this team together really for three or four weeks.
We got Christian back this week. So, yeah, we’re having better practices. We’re starting to understand our roles a little bit better. We’re finding ways to win games.’

“Credit to our guys,” Golding said. “We stuck through it and continued to fight. We’re big believers that tough times pass and tough people last. Adversity makes you stronger. We’ve been tested on that this year … Our guys have stuck together. They deserve this.”

A team effort

When Bieniemy wasn’t hurting the Roadrunners, guards Jorell Saterfield and Boum were. Saterfield finished with 15 points (on 5 of 8 from three-point distance). Boum produced 11 points, four assists and four rebounds. Former San Antonio Jay High School big man Ze’Rik Onyema played eight minutes for the Miners. The 6-foot-8 forward scored four points, including a two-handed stuff in the first half.

UTSA looking for payback as it hosts UTEP today

The UTEP Miners play at the UTSA Convocation Center today at 3 p.m. with a goal of defeating the Roadrunners for the second time in four days.

If it happens, it would be the first regular-season sweep for UTEP over UTSA in men’s basketball since the 2014-15 season.

Naturally, the Roadrunners are equally intent on another outcome. They intend to win to pay the Miners back for what happened in El Paso on Thursday night.

In West Texas, the Miners rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to down the Roadrunners, 69-64.

UTSA played hard as a team but was saddled with its fifth straight loss while competing without six players who were on the team through the end of December.

Three of those players, including Jordan Ivy-Curry, Josh Farmer and Christian Tucker, were held out in Covid protocols.

Their status for today’s game likely won’t be known for a few more hours.

Three other players — starters Dhieu Deing and Cedrick Alley, Jr., and talented reserve Aleu Aleu — are not expected to play again this season.

Aleu is out with a season-ending injury. Alley is academically ineligible and Deing has left the program to pursue professional basketball.

Regardless of who plays, the goal is the same for the Roadrunners — end a five-game losing streak and start something positive to kick off a three-game homestand.

UTSA has had success under coach Steve Henson against UTEP. In Henson’s six years with the Roadrunners, he is 8-4 against the Miners.

The Miners, 13-10 overall against the Roadrunners in a series dating back to 1981, are scheduled to make their first appearance in San Antonio under the direction of first-year coach Joe Golding.

Golding made a name for himself last year in the NCAA Tournament when his Abilene Christian University Wildcats upset the Shaka Smart-coached Texas Longhorns in the first round.

On Golding’s UTEP staff is Jeremy Cox, who served in the 1990s as a UTSA assistant under former Roadrunners head coaches Stu Starner and Tim Carter.

Ze’Rik Onyema is a UTEP freshman forward from San Antonio’s Jay High School.

Records

UTEP 10-8, 3-3
UTSA 7-12, 0-6

UTEP’s second-half shooting stops UTSA’s upset bid

Down by 11 at halftime and struggling on offense, the UTEP Miners heated up with seven 3-pointers after intermission and finally subdued the UTSA Roadrunners, 69-64, on Thursday night at the Haskins Center in El Paso.

UTEP, paced in the second half by long-distance shooting from Jorell Saterfield, handed UTSA its fifth straight loss and kept the Roadrunners winless in Conference USA. The Miners have won two in a row and three of their last four.

Dogged by injuries and Covid-19 issues, the Roadrunners played only seven players — six of them on scholarship, plus walk-on forward Isaiah Addo-Ankrah. Division I basketball programs are allowed up to 13 scholarships.

Notable

The Roadrunners, sparked by Addo-Ankrah’s nine points off the bench in 17 minutes, stayed in the game through much of the second half until the Miners took over.

Quotable

“We’re not going to let our guys off the hook,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said on the team’s radio broadcast. “We had enough guys to play, and we had enough guys to win. We just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch. Need to be a little tougher.

“Yeah, there was some fatigue. Some guys had never played big minutes (in college). Especially the young guys who had never done it … Isaiah, for him to go in there in that setting and do what he did, was pretty impressive.”

Germany’s big night

Junior center Jacob Germany led the Roadrunners with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He hit 9 of 18 from the field, including some long jump hooks. Senior guard Darius McNeill added 19 points, 5 rebounds and an assist. Both McNeill and guard Erik Czumbel played all 40 minutes.

Phoenix Ford had 11 points off the bench for the Roadrunners, who shot 63 percent from the field in the first half but only 28 percent after intermission.

For the Miners, Souley Boum scored 22, Saterfield had 18 and Jamal Bieniemy 11 points. Saterfield hit six of the Miners’ 10 three-point shots. Bieniemy also totaled 8 rebounds and 4 assists.

First half

Playing without Jordan Ivy-Curry for the third straight game, the Roadrunners shot 63 percent from the field and rolled to an improbable 38-27 lead before intermission. UTSA hit its first six shots for a 12-3 lead to set the tone.

The Roadrunners also finished strong by hitting its last three before the half. Germany, a 6-foot-11 lefthander, led the way with 14 points on 7 of 8 shooting. McNeill started and scored 10.

On the defensive end, UTSA was just as effective, holding UTEP to 33 percent (10 of 30 afield), with Boum scoring 13 to keep his team in the game.

The Roadrunners started with a lineup that included McNeill and Erik Czumbel at the guards, Lamin Sabally and Lachlan Bofinger at forwards and Germany in the post.

Notable

The UTSA men’s basketball program announced that the following players would not be available for Thursday night’s road game against the UTEP Miners: Aleu Aleu is out with a season-ending injury. Also, Josh Farmer, Jordan Ivy-Curry and Christian Tucker are all in COVID protocols.

Within the past few weeks, the Roadrunners have also lost guard Dhieu Deing, who left the team to turn professional, and power forward Cedrick Alley, Jr., who is academically ineligible. Both are expected to be lost for the season. Deing was the team’s leading scorer and Alley was the leading rebounder.

Records

UTSA 7-12, 0-6
UTEP 10-8, 3-3

Coming up

Sunday — UTEP at UTSA, 3 p.m.
Jan. 27 — FIU at UTSA, 7 p.m.
Jan. 29 — FAU at UTSA, 1 p.m.
Feb. 3 — UTSA at Rice, 7 p.m.
Feb. 5 — UTSA at North Texas, 5 p.m.
Feb. 7 — UTSA at Middle Tennessee, TBD

UTEP uses second-half surge to run away from UTSA, 69-51

The UTSA Roadrunners will return to soul-searching mode next week after a poor performance in El Paso Saturday night. After the UTEP Miners recorded a 69-51 victory, the Roadrunners were left to ponder what to do about an 0-8 record on the road this season.

“Again, if we play the way we played tonight, we’re not going to beat anybody anywhere,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said in a zoom call. “We would have lost at home. We would have lost in the park. We would have lost in the Alamodome. It wouldn’t have mattered, if we played the way we did tonight.”

In one way, it could be argued that the Miners may have just had an edge in attitude and motivation, especially at the end of the game.

Setting the stage for what happened, UTSA beat UTEP 86-79 on Thursday night in San Antonio on the front end of a two-game set in Conference USA. In the first meeting, Roadrunners guard Jhivvan Jackson scored 32 points and Keaton Wallace had 19, to go along with nine assists and eight rebounds. The UTSA offense hummed with precision during long stretches.

In the rematch, the Miners didn’t play all that great, but they held Jackson to a season-low seven points, and they also strung together enough plays on both ends to win in crunch time. With the game tied 44-all, the Miners outscored the Roadrunners 25-7 in the last 11 minutes to account for the final margin.

During that stretch, they held UTSA without a field goal for the final 8:17, and they also made their last seven shots from the field. The outcome underscored once again the Roadrunners’ problems on the road, where they have lost 11 straight dating back to February of last season.

“I don’t think it’s a mental block,” Henson said. “I mean, we’re not ignoring it. But, we got to play better. Shoot. We got to play better. I mean, this is a pretty good team. We can’t come in here and play as badly as we did and shoot whatever we shot (29.5 percent) and expect to win. You got to make plays.

“We continue to talk about competing offensively. We’re a pretty good offensive team when we get a few shots down early, and when it’s easy, when the momentum goes the right way. But, boy, when it gets a little tough, we have trouble understanding how to get the right kind of shots, and on the road, you have to get better shots. You have to take care of the ball.

“We’ll address some things early in the week and expect to play better next game on the road.”

Records

UTEP 8-8, 4-6
UTSA 8-9, 4-6

Coming up

UTSA at Florida International, Friday, Feb. 5, at 6 p.m.
UTSA at Florida International, Saturday, Feb. 6, at 1 p.m.

Individually

UTEP — Souley Boum, 20 points on 7 of 17 shooting. Jamal Bieniemy, 16 points and 10 rebounds. Keonte Kennedy, 10 points and 14 rebounds. Bryson Williams, 7 points and 9 rebounds.

UTSA — Keaton Wallace, 15 points on 5 of 16 shooting. Jacob Germany, 11 points on 4 of 9. Jhivvan Jackson, 7 points on 3 of 10 shooting.

By the numbers

UTSA’s last win on the road came on Feb. 6, 2020, in an 85-81 victory over Old Dominion … Against UTEP, UTSA’s offense hit only 18 of 61 from the field, including 8 of 29 in the second half. The Roadrunners missed their last nine shot attempts in the game … Jackson hit the first shot of the game, a nice runner from 12 feet in the lane, and then he started to struggle. In the next few possessions, the Roadrunners’ all-conference guard missed two long three-point attempts. UTSA was up 8-2 on the scoreboard when he fouled a jump shooter. Then he committed his second foul a little more than six minutes into the game and had to come out. Jackson played only 12 minutes in the first half and scored four points. He finished with seven points, only his second game this season with less than 10.

Jackson, Wallace key UTSA’s third straight victory

Keaton Wallace. UTSA beat UTEP 86-79 in a Conference USA game on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Senior Keaton Wallace enjoyed one of his best games of the season with 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. Meanwhile, UTSA scored an important C-USA victory over the UTEP Miners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Very few teams in NCAA Division I basketball have backcourts as explosive as UTSA’s duo of Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace.

The two seniors were at their entertaining best Thursday night in the Convocation Center.

Jackson scored a season-high 32 points and Wallace contributed 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists as the resurgent Roadrunners won their third straight game, taking down the UTEP Miners, 86-79.

Jackson befuddled the Miners with a mix of long-distance shooting artistry and mid-range finesse, hitting 10 of 20 from the field. The senior from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, nailed four three-point shots.

For his part, Wallace sank 7 of 12 in a tour de force that included grit and defensive hustle from the 6-foot-3 Dallas native.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat UTEP 86-79 in a Conference USA game on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson scored 32 for the Roadrunners. The senior guard is averaging 25.1 points in his last seven games. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Led by Souley Boum and Bryson Williams, the Miners surged into a two-point lead early in the second half. But the Roadrunners held the Miners as a team to three of 16 shooting in a 10-minute stretch of the second half.

Both Boum and Williams finished with 24 points. Williams, a 6-foot-8 post, was held to five of 11 shooting from the field.

Records

UTSA 8-8, 4-5
UTEP 7-8, 3-6

Coming up

UTSA at UTEP, Saturday at 8 p.m.

Starting slowly

After some erratic performances in the pre-conference phase of the schedule, including a 39-point loss at Oklahoma, the Roadrunners started C-USA play by losing two games at Rice, splitting two at home against North Texas and then dropping two on the road at Louisiana Tech. After the 1-5 start in conference, UTSA has now won three straight, all at home, against Southern Miss (twice) and now UTEP to get back into contention for postseason play.

Jordan Ivy-Curry. UTSA beat UTEP 86-79 in a Conference USA game on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 14 points on 5 of 8 shooting in his first collegiate start. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Making the adjustments

The Roadrunners started the homestand with a change in the starting lineup, moving junior Adrian Rodriguez into the first five. They made another move Thursday by starting freshman Jordan Ivy-Curry. With a starting five of Jackson, Wallace, Ivy-Curry, Rodriguez and Jacob Germany, the Roadrunners singed the Miners with 56.7 percent shooting en route to a 46-38 lead.

Quotable

Keaton Wallace, on the slow start to the season — “I (felt) like it was never over. Even in the past, we always start off kind of slow. Then we start figuring some things out. Then guys start meshing together on the court … Then we get rolling. That’s pretty much how it’s been ever since I got here.”

Playing good ‘D’

In the three victories, UTSA has played solid defense in extended stretches to take charge. The Roadrunners did it again Thursday night. For a stretch of more than 10 minutes in the second half, they mixed up defenses, alternating from man to zone, and held UTEP to 3 of 16 shooting. Defensive highlights down the stretch included Rodriguez taking a charge from Williams in the post and the 6-foot-11 Germany extending to block a three-point shot by Boum in the corner. After the block, Germany batted the ball off Boum’s head. It went out of bounds, with the possession awarded to UTSA.

Jacob Germany. UTSA beat UTEP 86-79 in a Conference USA game on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore center Jacob Germany produced eight points, four rebounds and a block. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Quotable

Keaton Wallace, on the key stops — “Those are the detail plays that we’re making now. You know, we weren’t making those plays early in the season. Just paying attention to little details like that. Knowing when to rotate. Playing the ball. Jumping to the ball, things like that. We’re always in the right spots on defense. Jacob getting the block in the corner. That’s just (game and practice) reps. He understands where he needs to be when the ball is in the corner. And A-Rod, the big (man) was driving … You knew that charge was going to be big for us. He got down there and took it.”

Notable

The Roadrunners will try to win their first road game of the season Saturday at UTEP. They’re 0-7 on the road overall, including 0-4 in C-USA road games. The status of injured forward Eric Parrish (Achilles) is uncertain after he sat out his first game of the season. If anything, the play of Jackson and Wallace gives them hope that they can start winning away from home. Combined, the two probably played as well in tandem as they have all season.

Quotable

Coach Steve Henson, on Jackson and Wallace — “They stepped up on the offensive end and delivered in a big, big way.”


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