Women’s basketball: UTSA wins on the road at Wichita State

The UTSA women’s basketball team built a 15-point lead in the third quarter and then watched as it dwindled to five down the stretch Saturday afternoon in Wichita, Kan. In the end, the Roadrunners kept their poise and came away with their 15th win of the season, a 68-61 victory in the American Athletic Conference over the Wichita State Shockers at Koch Arena.

Records

UTSA 15-13, 9-8
Wichita State 8-21, 4-13

Coming up

Regular-season finale: Rice at UTSA, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
AAC women’s basketball tournament, March 9-13, at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth

Jenkins scores a season-high 29 as the UTSA women beat first-place North Texas, 66-63

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Fast-improving forward Jordyn Jenkins scored 12 of her season-high 29 points in the fourth quarter Sunday as the UTSA Roadrunners defeated another first-place team in the American Athletic Conference women’s basketball race, downing the North Texas Mean Green 66-63 at the Super Pit in Denton.

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

UTSA forward Jordyn Jenkins scored a season-high 29 points Sunday afternoon in her third game back after sitting out the first 21 in rehabilitation for a knee injury. – Photo by Joe Alexander

With the victory, UTSA (13-11, 7-6) split a two-game AAC road trip and swept a two-game, regular-season series against North Texas (19-6, 9-4).

UTSA, aided by 16 points from freshman guard Aysia Proctor and nine points and nine rebounds from junior center Elyssa Coleman, also improved to 4-0 on the season against first-place AAC teams. The Roadrunners are 3-0 at home and 1-0 on the road against squads leading in the standings.

The Mean Green were in first place both times they played the Roadrunners and were turned away twice in close games. On Jan. 31, UTSA won in its on-campus arena, downing North Texas 75-67 in overtime.

In that game, Jenkins had not yet been cleared to play. She sat out the first 21 games this season while rehabilitating a knee injury. Since her return, the Roadrunners have won two out of three, claiming the two victories against AAC contenders Alabama-Birmingham and now North Texas.

UTSA’s road win against its in-state rivals, at the Super Pit in Denton, may have been the team’s best of the season. The Mean Green had been 10-0 at home this season. They were also 5-0 in AAC games at home — until Jenkins, a high-scoring forward from Kent, Wash., showed up to play.

Jenkins hit 11 of 17 shots from the floor, including three of five from three-point distance. In the fourth period, she was at her best, hitting four for four from the floor and knocking down her only three-point attempt.

On one of her shots, she had the ball on the right side of the floor, about eight feet from the basket, when she turned and flipped in a left-handed scoop shot. The bucket gave UTSA a three-point lead with 40 seconds remaining.

Coming out of a time out, North Texas guard Dyani Robinson hit a shot to cut the UTSA lead to one. On the other end, Jenkins was fouled and sank two free throws with 27 seconds left for the game’s final points.

North Texas called time with 20 seconds left needing a three to tie. The Mean Green failed to get off a clean shot, as Shamaryah Duncan’s three from the right wing was deflected by UTSA’s Kyra White, clinching the victory for the Roadrunners.

Six-foot forward DesiRay Kernal paced North Texas with 16 points and 12 rebounds. As UNT’s top offensive threat, she wasn’t as effective as she has been, making five of 12 from the field. Another Mean Green threat, center Tommisha Lampkin, was hindered by foul trouble and played only 20 minutes. She finished with six points and six rebounds.

In the second and third quarters, the Mean Green started to play better team basketball. They hit six of 11 from the field and eight of nine at the free throw line in the second, outscoring the Roadrunners 21-16 in the period and taking a 34-30 lead at the intermission. After halftime, they came out energized and once again got the better of the visitors, opening the advantage to 52-46.

North Texas guard Jaauckland Moore made a three with three seconds remaining in the third, lifting the Eagles into their six-point lead.

Records

UTSA 13-11, 7-6
North Texas 19-6, 9-4

Coming up

Temple at UTSA, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

Notable

After missing so much of the season, Jenkins is fast improving her conditioning. In her first two games, she played 11 minutes against UAB and 14 in a Wednesday-night loss at Tulsa. Against both UAB and Tulsa, she scored 11 in each game. Combined in those two games, she hit seven of 25 shots from the field. Jenkins followed with 24 minutes against North Texas and finished 11 of 17 from the floor. Her 29-point performance left the Mean Green faithful with long memories dismayed, as she scored 40 in the Super Pit last February in UTSA’s 68-67 overtime victory. The two games were played nearly one calendar year apart — from Feb. 20, 2023 to Feb. 18, 2024.

Down by 13 at home, Tulsa rallies late to beat UTSA, 74-70

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Temira Poindexter and Mady Cartwright sparked a huge fourth-quarter rally Wednesday night as the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, playing at home, stormed from behind to edge the upset-minded UTSA Roadrunners, 74-70.

In an American Athletic Conference women’s basketball thriller, the Roadrunners fell behind by nine points in the first half, but then started to play well and steadily built what evolved in a 13-point lead with seven minutes remaining in the game.

At that point, the Golden Hurricane heated up and turned the game around with a 20-3 run over the next six and a half minutes. When Poindexter hit two free throws with 29 seconds left, the Golden Hurricane’s lead ticked up to four points at 73-69.

On the other end, UTSA’s Madison Cockrell missed a three with 16 seconds left. The rebound went to forward Idara Udo, who was fouled, and she hit one free throw to make it a three-point game.

On her one miss, Kyra White grabbed the offensive rebound to give the Roadrunners hope, but she also missed a three with 13 seconds remaining. For Tulsa, Katia Gallegos responded by driving, drawing a foul and knocking down one free throw with seven seconds left for the final point.

With the win, Tulsa (18-7 overall, 8-4 in the American) registered a possible momentum-turning victory after losing two of its last three. UTSA (12-11, 6-6) came into the game feeling good, winning at home Sunday and knocking the UAB Blazers out of first place.

Now the Roadrunners face a Sunday afternoon road game against the AAC heavyweight North Texas Mean Green. UTSA coach Karen Aston said on the postgame radio show that her team let one get away against Tulsa.

“We didn’t manage the clock very well,” she said. “We started shooting too quick … just didn’t have an understanding that we have four and a half minutes left. We needed to move the ball and make them play a little bit longer. Youth played a part in that, but credit to Tulsa. They did what they had to do to win.”

The story of the game was the fourth-quarter rally by the Golden Hurricane. During the 20-3 run, Poindexter, a 6-foot-1 junior from Sapulpa, Okla., took over. She scored eight points in the stretch. Cartwright also contributed during the run with six points.

For the game, Poindexter led the Golden Hurricane with 20 points. Guard Delanie Crawford added 15 and Cartwright had 13. Together the threesome knocked down seven of Tulsa’s nine three-point baskets. Tulsa shot 50 percent from the field for the game, including 55 percent in the fourth period.

UTSA’s backcourt of Sidney Love and Kyra White led the Roadrunners in scoring. Love totaled 16 points and White had 15. Forwards Jordyn Jenkins and Idara Udo had 11 points apiece. Jenkins, in her second game back after sitting out most of the season, also had seven rebounds. Freshman guard Aysia Proctor scored 10.

Generally, UTSA played well on the road on the home floor of one of the better teams in the conference. From midway through the second quarter to midway through the fourth, the Roadrunners went on an extended roll, outscoring the Golden Hurricane 40-18.

Records

UTSA 12-11, 6-6
Tulsa 18-7, 8-4

Coming up

UTSA at North Texas, Sunday, 2 p.m.

First quarter

Tulsa’s Caranda Perea hit a long jumper and a three-pointer in the last minute of the first quarter. Capping a hectic period, UTSA’s Kyra White followed a missed shot with a three of her own. Tulsa emerged with a 22-19 lead going into the second,

Second quarter

Playing fast and running the break, the Golden Hurricane pushed out to a couple of nine-point leads before the Roadrunners rallied at the end. Sidney Love missed a jumper in the final seconds as UTSA went into the dressing room down by only four at 38-34.

Guard Delanie Crawford sparked Tulsa in the half with a team-high 12 points and seven rebounds and three assists. Temira Poindexter had eight points on three of six shooting.

For UTSA, freshman Idara Udo had eight points and four boards. Also, Sidney Love had seven points and Jordyn Jenkins, in her second game back after sitting out the first 21 in knee rehabilitation, scored six.

Third quarter

UTSA stepped up the defensive pressure and started forcing turnovers. Meanwhile, Sidney Love and Kyra White started to turn it on offensively. The Roadrunners outscored the Golden Hurricane 21-13 in the period.

A highlight came late when Maya Linton got a steal on one end. On the other, Kyra White dribbled down court on the break, made a Euro-step move at the bucket and twisted in a layup. The Roadrunners will take a 55-51 lead into the fourth quarter.

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

Records

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

Coming up

UTSA at UAB, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Notable

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 women down FAU 73-60 for first AAC road victory

Freshman guard Aysia Proctor led four players in double-digit scoring with 17 points Wednesday night, lifting the UTSA Roadrunners women to a 73-60 victory on the road over the FAU Owls.

Playing in Boca Raton, Fla., UTSA bolted to a 20-11 lead after one quarter and then cruised to its first road victory in the American Athletic Conference.

Proctor, from San Antonio-area Clemens High School, paced the Roadrunners with seven of 11 shooting from the floor and three of four from 3-point distance.

Elyssa Coleman scored 16 points, while guard Kyra White added 12. Maya Linton contributed 10 points off the bench.

Records

UTSA 8-7, 2-2
FAU 5-10, 0-4

Coleman dominates as UTSA claims its first AAC victory

Elyssa Coleman had 32 points, 19 rebounds and 3 blocks as UTSA earned its first American Conference women's basketball win, beating Wichita State 74-60 at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Center Elyssa Coleman led the UTSA Roadrunners to their first victory in the American Athletic Conference Saturday at the Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

For the past few seasons, center Elyssa Coleman has made a name for herself as one of the steadiest players on the UTSA Roadrunners, a reliable source of defense, blocked shots and rebounds.

On Saturday afternoon, the 6-foot-3 junior from Atascocita stepped it up, unleashing a dominant performance on both ends of the floor with career highs of 32 points and 19 rebounds. She also had three blocks.

Karen Aston. UTSA beat Wichita State 76-60 in American Conference women's basketball on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Karen Aston said she thinks her team played with more ‘purpose’ in downing the Wichita State Shockers. – Photo by Joe Alexander

As Coleman asserted herself, the Roadrunners made history by winning their first American Athletic Conference game, running away in the fourth quarter and downing the Wichita State Shockers 74-60 at the Convocation Center.

“It’s always a good thing to win, but getting our first American win is a big deal for us,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said. “A bigger deal is that we played with a lot more purpose, I guess is the best way I can describe it.

“I thought we were very good defensively in the first and the fourth. Which has kind of been a little bit of our personality, defensively, is to turn it back on and clamp down in the fourth, and I thought we did a good job with that.

“In particular, I thought our post players did a great job on theirs. Really it’s a team defensive concept when you’re trying to stop that high-low game that they play … Just excited to get a win.”

In UTSA’s first home game in 23 days, Coleman scored her career high in points on 14 of 20 shooting from the field. UTSA’s San Antonio-area backcourt of Sidney Love and Kyra White also played well for the Roadrunners.

While Love was notching 16 points and six assists, White showed up all over the stat sheet with 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Roadrunners (7-7, 1-2).

Sidney Love. UTSA beat Wichita State 76-60 in American Conference women's basketball on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Point guard Sidney Love had 16 points and six assists against only one turnover. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Shockers (5-10, 1-2) couldn’t hit a shot early in the game and fell behind by 10. But they rallied to win the second and third quarters and made it competitive. Aniya Bell led Wichita State with 16 points. Daniela Abies had 12 points and 12 rebounds.

In UTSA’s first 13 games this season, Coleman averaged 10.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Her 14th outing was 14K golden, particularly the fourth quarter, when she scored 15 points on seven of 11 shooting.

“I think coach has been on us to just give it our all and really sell out,” Coleman said. “Me and my position coach (Cameron Miles) were talking yesterday about how I wasn’t playing my best and wasn’t putting out my full effort and (would) still get decent games, stat-wise.

“(We talked about) what would happen if I actually put my all into it. So, that’s what I tried to do.”

All sports at UTSA became members of the AAC last summer after 10 seasons in Conference USA. UTSA women’s basketball entered its season last fall without much fanfare, picked eighth in the 14-team league.

Though they played well in nonconference, going 6-5, they failed to gain traction when they entered AAC competition last weekend. In a pair of road games, they were humbled, once at Temple in Philadelphia and also at East Carolina, in Greenville, N.C.

Kyra White. UTSA beat Wichita State 76-60 in American Conference women's basketball on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Kyra White produced 12 points and season-highs of nine rebounds and eight assists. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Game 2 on the conference slate was particularly grim, as they lost to the Pirates by 28. As a result, they first tried for a little while to process the disappointment, and then they attacked workouts coming into the Wichita State game with intensity and resolve.

“I feel like we were definitely due for a win, especially on our home court,” Love said. “In a new conference, you just want to build on something. None of us wanted to go 0-3. We decided to play like we wanted to get a win, and we did that tonight.”

Records

Wichita State 5-10, 1-2
UTSA 7-7, 1-2

Coming up

UTSA at Florida Atlantic, Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Notable

UTSA’s schedule has been tilted toward road games — nine of 14 away — and yet the Roadrunners have come out of it at 7-7 in wins and losses. They are 3-2 at home and 4-5 on the road. Eight of their next 14 games will be at home.

Guard Aysia Proctor sat out her first game of the season at East Carolina with an injury. She bounced back to start and play 22 minutes against Wichita State. It wasn’t her best performance, but she contributed with six points, three rebounds and two assists.

Wichita State is led by first-year head coach Terry Nooner, who played guard for Roy Williams at Kansas from 1997-2001. It’s the first head-coaching job for Nooner, who worked for Karen Aston at Texas in 2019-20.

He has also served as an assistant at Kansas, Maryland, Alabama and Southern Illinois, as well as one season as a player development coach with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

First half

Playing with defensive aggression early, the Roadrunners surged into an early lead of double digits and then held off the Shockers at the end of the half for a 33-30 advantage at intermission.

Love scored 10 points and Coleman produced nine and 11 rebounds for the Roadrunners. UTSA jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first five minutes and held Wichita State to eight points in the first quarter.

After that, the Shockers found their groove. They surged behind Abies and Bell in the second quarter to make it a one possession game in the final seconds of the half.

Bell found the range from long distance, hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 11 to lead the team. Abies battled inside for nine points and seven rebounds. She was four-for-five from the field.

Elyssa Coleman had 32 points, 19 rebounds and 3 blocks as UTSA earned its first American Conference women's basketball win, beating Wichita State 74-60 at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Elyssa Coleman takes aim at the rim against the Wichita State Shockers. She finished with career highs of 32 points and 19 rebounds. Her scoring total topped her previous best of 23 against UTEP last Dec. 3. Her previous best rebound total was 13 on Dec. 17 at Oregon. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA women set to host Wichita State on Saturday afternoon

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

Sophomore guard Madison Cockrell says the UTSA Roadrunners took “to heart” their first two losses in the American Athletic Conference. She says that, as a result, players know that they need to change some things to get back on course. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

After an 0-2 start in the American Athletic Conference, players on the UTSA women’s basketball squad felt the harsh sting of disappointment.

First, they dropped a 71-58 decision at Temple last Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia in the first AAC game in program history.

Next, they journeyed to Greenville, N.C., and were humbled again, falling 82-54 to the East Carolina Pirates.

Even though the Pirates won the AAC postseason title last season and were a preseason pick to finish second in the conference this year, the Roadrunners were downcast.

A proud group of athletes, they wanted and expected to be better, and they just weren’t.

“For me, I definitely thought about it throughout the night and the next day,” UTSA sophomore Madison Cockrell said. “I know for my teammates, it was the same thing. But we can’t dwell on the past. We can only learn from our mistakes and move forward and get ready for our next game.”

The Roadrunners will get that opportunity on Saturday afternoon when they play host to the Wichita State Shockers.

Tipoff between UTSA (6-7, 0-2) and Wichita State (5-9, 1-1) is set for 2 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

Cockrell said she feels good about the team’s preparation the past few days.

“I think our last few practices, we have been executing and working on practicing how we’re going to play in the game,” she said. “We took our first two conference losses to heart, and we are starting to change things.”

At that, she smiled, and nodded her head in the affirmative.

“(We’re) going hard every day in practices,” she said. “Playing hard. Paying attention to details. Studying the scout. Getting ready for Saturday.”

When the game in Greenville got away from the Roadrunners Tuesday afternoon, UTSA coaches elected to play some players who haven’t seen much time this season.

Cockrell, who notched a season high of 17 minutes and produced career highs of 13 points and three steals, caught the attention of the UTSA coaches.

So did freshman guard Emma Lucio, who notched a season high of 21 minutes. Lucio, from Edinburg, finished with three points, three rebounds and two assists.

“Opportunity is what you do with it,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said Friday morning, “and I thought those two kids did something with their opportunity the other night, and they’re going to get rewarded with more playing time tomorrow.”

Following Friday’s practice, a few other personnel questions loomed.

First, will Aysia Proctor be able to play against the Shockers? Well, maybe.

Asked Friday morning about Proctor’s status for Wichita State, Aston was non-committal, offering only that, “she’ll be fine.” By Friday afternoon, a positive sign on Proctor emerged at practice when the freshman from Clemens took part in five-on-five drills.

The second question is one that has been percolating for months now. It involves standout forward Jordyn Jenkins, who hasn’t played at all this season.

Jenkins went through light shooting drills both on her own and briefly with the team Friday afternoon. At the same time, Jenkins, who won Conference USA Player of the Year honors in 2022-23, did not take part in any of the team’s five-on-five contact work.

She is rehabilitating an injured knee.

Notable

The UTSA men are also looking for their first AAC victory. The Roadrunners will try to get it Saturday afternoon in Houston against the Rice Owls. The Roadrunners (6-8, 0-1) and the Owls (6-8, 0-1) are set to play at the University of St. Thomas, with tipoff set for 2 p.m. The game was moved off the Rice campus because of water damage at Tudor Fieldhouse. Injured UTSA guard Adante’ Holiman isn’t expected to play. Holiman turned his ankle in the second half of Tuesday night’s 78-76 loss to the UAB Blazers in San Antonio.

Correction

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the score of UTSA’s Tuesday night game in Greenville, N.C. The score has been changed in the story to reflect East Carolina’s 82-54 victory over UTSA in women’s college basketball.

On a mission: UTSA women carry a winning record into AAC play

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

UTSA sophomore point guard Sidney Love averages 12.2 points to lead UTSA in scoring. She also shoots 87 percent at the free-throw line to lead the American Athletic Conference. -File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

History beckons for a surprisingly resilient UTSA women’s basketball team preparing to take its first steps on a hardwood court in the American Athletic Conference.

Transitioning to the AAC after 10 seasons in Conference USA, the well-traveled and road-tested Roadrunners (6-5) will carry a winning record into a two-game AAC road swing.

They’ll play Saturday in Philadelphia against the Temple Owls (6-6) and Tuesday in Greenville, N.C., against the East Carolina Pirates (7-3).

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

Kyra White ranks among UTSA team leaders in scoring (10.6), rebounding (5.5) and assists (4.1).- File photo by Joe Alexander

“I’m excited to start American play,” UTSA coach Karen Aston said Thursday afternoon. “It’s always exciting to get to a place where the stakes are higher … I’m excited to get it started.”

Like UTSA, both Temple and East Carolina are programs that have seen hard times recently and have taken steps to upgrade.

Aston understands the challenge that awaits.

“These road games, you can look at it two different ways,” she said. “I mean, we do start (conference) on the road against experienced teams that have kind of taken their lumps in the American, and now they’re on the other side of it.

“But on the flip side, the good thing about it is, we get these out of the way when we’re not in school. I think that’s a huge factor for us.”

As one of six new women’s basketball programs in the AAC, UTSA is no longer the cupcake on everyone’s NCAA Division I schedule.

In fact, the Roadrunners have six victories against D-I competition and have registered a winning overall record at the Christmas break for the first time in 10 years.

Coming off eight straight losing seasons, the Roadrunners are listed at No. 144 in the NET rankings, which puts them in the top half of programs in Division I.

For the fans, it’s been remarkable to see the dramatic changes under Aston, who is in her third year as coach.

“Like night and day,” UTSA senior Kyleigh McGuire said in a Dec. 13 interview. “When coach Karen came in here, she had a mission, and she recruited people and staff that fit into that plan and would buy in at 100 percent — and never let up.”

Led by guards Sidney Love and Kyra White and center Elyssa Coleman, the team has veteran talent and savvy at those three key positions.

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

Center Elyssa Coleman has emerged in her junior year as a force inside with 10.3 points per game, all while leading UTSA in rebounding (7.4) and blocks (1.7). – File photo by Joe Alexander

In addition, the Roadrunners also are getting major contributions from two freshmen in guard Aysia Proctor and forward Idara Udo.

Forward Jordyn Jenkins, the Player of the Year in Conference USA last season, hasn’t played yet due to a knee injury. But, her absence from the lineup hasn’t had too much of a negative effect on the team, all things considered.

In four games against Power 5 competition, UTSA came out of it winless at 0-4, but three of the losses were by single digits. Once, the lost by five at Texas Tech. On another day, they lost at home by two to Houston.

Also, road games haven’t bothered them too much. They’re 4-3 record on the road so far. Before Christmas, the Roadrunners took on a daunting challenge with two games in the north west corner of the United States and came out of it with a split.

Despite poor shooting, they were within five points against the Pac-12’s Oregon Ducks with four minutes remaining, couldn’t sustain the momentum and lost by 13. A few days later, playing at Seattle, they jumped out to an early lead, ballooned it to 23 in the second half and eventually downed the Seattle Redhawks, 75-64.

Granted the RedHawks are 1-9, but this time two or three years ago, the Roadrunners weren’t winning many games on the road against anyone.

“It’s always good to win your last game before you go home for the holidays,” Aston said of the victory at Seattle. “It always bodes well for the break and how you feel about taking a few days off. I think the break was much needed for us. We had a lot of travel in nonconference play.

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

UTSA freshman Aysia Proctor from Clemens High School has supplied scoring (9.4) and rebounding (5.5) off the bench. She also isn’t shy about playing on the road, as she scored 20 points at Oregon. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“I thought we had a chance at Oregon, so it was disappointing we didn’t take advantage of that opportunity. But on the other side of it, when I watched the film, I thought we did some really good things. We just didn’t make shots.”

Rebounding kept UTSA close against Oregon, as it has all season.

“A lot of that was because we didn’t make shots and we had a lot of offensive rebounds,” the coach said. “But, they’re big. They have size. We haven’t seen anything like that. It was a little bit shocking in the beginning, but we adjusted in the second half.

“You know, there’s been a couple of these games that, had we showed up a little better in the first half, we’d have had a chance to win.”

Perhaps most promising for the Roadrunners leading into AAC competition is the play of Proctor and Udo, the two precocious freshmen.

Proctor, a 5-8 guard from San Antonio-area Clemens High School, is averaging 9.4 points and 5.5 rebounds in 22.1 minutes. She has scored in double figures in three straight games, including 19 against Houston and 20 against Oregon.

Against the Ducks, she was the only UTSA player shooting it with authority against a quality opponent, and she also pulled down 11 rebounds in the game.

Udo, a physical 6-1 post player from Plano, is averaging 6.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in 18.7 minutes. Against Seattle, she came off the bench for 19 points and nine rebounds.

“It’s always good to have more people in your rotation,” Aston said. “Those two have established themselves, definitely, in the rotation at this point.”

Aston said she is not surprised at how much the two freshmen have accomplished.

“Honestly, I thought they would contribute to our team,” the coach said. “We recruited players that maybe added something to the table that we didn’t have previously.

“I mean, Aysia can really score the ball, and she’s learning in all the other areas of the game. But the flat-out truth is, she can score the basketball. And we need somebody who can score it, and she adds that, and I thought she would.”

In many ways, both Proctor and Udo have softened the blow for the team in trying to make up for the loss of Jenkins.

Proctor has stepped in to establish herself as an offensive threat, a 50.5 percent shooter from the field, while Udo has held her own as a defender-rebounder who can also score.

Idara Udo (No. 25) had a key blocked shot with 7 seconds left. UTSA beat New Mexico State 58-55 in women's basketball on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Idara Udo had a key blocked shot with 7 seconds left as UTSA beat New Mexico State 58-55 on Nov. 10. – Filer photo by Joe Alexander

Aston lauded Udo’s work ethic.

“She’s taken advantage of the opportunity, and she has made the absolute most of it every single day,” the coach said. “What she does in the games is based on what she does every day in practice. I think that bodes well for her career.

“Anytime a player comes to play in practice every day, you can’t help but play ’em (in games).”

Notable

During UTSA’s game at Seattle on Dec. 19, an ESPN broadcaster described Jordyn Jenkins‘ playing status as “day to day.” Asked after practice on Thursday if anything was new on UTSA’s 20 points per-game scorer from last season, Aston declined comment. The coach has said previously that UTSA doesn’t want to rush anything in her rehabilitation. Jenkins, who has been described as a player with pro potential, injured her right knee in April.

UTSA leaders

Scoring

Sidney Love 12.2
Kyra White 10.6
Elyssa Coleman 10.3
Aysia Proctor 9.4

Field goal percentage

Aysia Proctor 50.5
Elyssa Coleman 44.0
Idara Udo 43.3
(35 or more attempts)

Three-point percentage

Siena Guttadauro 33.3
Kyra White 30.0
Sidney Love 24.0
(21 or more attempts)

Free-throw percentage

Sidney Love 87.0
Kyra White 64.7
Maya Linton 63.0
(17 or more attempts)

Rebounding

Elyssa Coleman 7.4
Idara Udo 6.4
Aysia Proctor 5.5
Kyra White 5.3

Assists

Kyra White 46
Sidney Love 33

Steals

Sidney Love 17
Maya Linton 15
Kyra White 10

Blocks

Elyssa Coleman 19
Kyra White 15
Idara Udo 12

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

Karen Aston’s UTSA Roadrunners will play the Temple Owls Saturday in Philadelphia in the program’s inaugural game in the American Athletic Conference. – File photo by Joe Alexander

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A scoring mentality: UTSA’s White adds jump shot accuracy to her overall game

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 scored 44 points on 18 of 31 shooting from the field in two home games last week. — Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Kyra White says she isn’t doing anything different, from a technical standpoint, when she shoots her jump shot.

She says her recent hot streak is just a matter of months of practice finally producing results.

That, and a heightened sense of confidence.

“We’re just working on getting to my spots and having the scoring mentality,” she said after practice Tuesday. “I believe that, in the beginning of the season, I was just looking to be a play maker. Making plays for my team. Now that I’m figuring out that my shot is going in, all this extra work is coming to the surface, and I’m just feeling a lot of confidence right now. My teammates trust me to shoot the ball, so I’m going to continue to go out and do that.”

All season, White has been one of the Roadrunners’ best players.

On the ball at point guard or on the wing, the former Judson High School standout has facilitated the offense, averaging 4.5 assists. She’s crashed the boards, averaging 4.3 rebounds. And she’s also supplied offense when needed, producing 7.6 points.

Lately, though, the offense has been eye opening.

In two games at home last week, White scored 44 points — 22 each in victories over the FAU Owls and the FIU Panthers — all while knocking down a combined 18 of 31 from the field.

The 5-foot-9 junior, a transfer from Southern Cal, sparked a UTSA comeback by taking five jumpers and making all of them in the third quarter of UTSA’s 85-79 victory over FIU on Saturday afternoon.

UTSA assistant Jamie Carey says there’s no secret to White sizzling at 58 percent in the two home games after shooting just 33 percent for the season.

“It’s gym time,” Carey said. “It’s a perfect example of what hard work does. She’s in the gym every day before practice, every day after practice. When you put in that time, your confidence does grow. I mean, I think (her shot) is coming off her hand cleaner. There’s a lot that she’s doing really well, but you don’t accomplish that if you haven’t been in the gym.”

White arrived at UTSA last fall with some fanfare as one of the key players on Judson’s 2019 state championship team. But in three seasons at Southern Cal to start her collegiate career, she averaged only 1.8 points and 1.6 assists in 18.1 minutes.

Last season, she shot 47.6 percent on 10 of 21 shooting. But her playing time had been reduced from 24.9 minutes in 2020-21, down to 12.2.

This year, back home in the San Antonio area, she has flourished.

“I’m just so blessed to be with an amazing program, with amazing girls and amazing staff,” she said. “We’re in March and I’m playing basketball. You gotta love it.”

Coming up

UTSA at Charlotte, Thursday, 5 p.m.
end of regular season
UTSA at Conference USA tournament, March 8-11, at Frisco

Surprising UTSA women hope to keep it going against FAU

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

The UTSA women’s basketball team has a dual mission tonight — make amends for a poor performance earlier this season and keep alive its late-season push in the Conference USA standings.

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

Jordyn Jenkins has scored 528 points, 55 shy of the UTSA school single-season record held by Tammy Rogers, who produced 583 in 1990-91. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Surprising UTSA is 4-3 in its last seven games going into tonight’s home test against the struggling Florida Atlantic University Owls. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

Last month, the Roadrunners traveled to Florida and got swept in a two-game C-USA road series, losing at FAU 81-66 and at Florida International, 51-48. A week later, on Jan. 26, they returned home and dropped another close game to North Texas, 54-51.

After losing to the Mean Green, UTSA dropped to 4-15 and 2-8 in the conference.

Since then, the ball club has caught a tail-wind, winning four out of seven games, including victories over Louisiana Tech (on the road), Middle Tennessee and Rice (both at home) and North Texas (on the road).

As a result, the Roadrunners have improved to 8-18 on the season and 6-11 in the C-USA.

The latest victory may have been the most dramatic. Playing in Denton on Monday night, UTSA squandered a nine-point fourth quarter lead before riding Jordyn Jenkins to a 68-67 decision over North Texas in overtime.

In boosting veteran coach Karen Aston to the 300th victory of her career, Jenkins hit 12 of 20 shots from the field, including three of five from 3-point distance. The 40-point showing not only was her career-high, but with 11 rebounds, she also notched her ninth double-double of the year.

If history is any indication, FAU could be a problem tonight for UTSA despite Jenkins’ talents. The Owls dominated the Roadrunners last month, with guard Aniyah Hubbard lighting it up for 21 points. The 5-8 guard also had four rebounds, three assists and four steals.

Defensively, the Owls were effective, holding the Roadrunners to 31 percent shooting. They also out-rebounded the visitors, 27-21. The margin wasn’t that much, but it was one of the few times during the conference schedule that an opponent out-rebounded UTSA.

Lately, FAU has fallen on hard times, losing four straight, dropping the Owls to 12-13 and 5-11, a half game below the Roadrunners in the C-USA standings. Right now, UTSA is ninth in the standings and FAU 10th.

All 11 C-USA teams qualify for the C-USA tournament next month in Frisco, but, generally the higher a team can finish in the regular season, the easier it is to win games and advance.

It’s likely that UTSA will need to win four games in four days to win the C-USA title and make the 64-team NCAA field.

Records

FAU 12-13, 5-11
UTSA 8-18, 6-11

Coming up

FAU at UTSA, Thursday, 7 p.m.
FIU at UTSA, Saturday, noon

Notable

UTSA hasn’t won as many as nine games in a season and six games on its conference schedule since the 2017-18 season, when the Roadrunners finished 9-21 and 6-10…Jordyn Jenkins, a UTSA newcomer after transferring from Southern Cal, is 55 points shy of the school record held by Tammy Rogers.