UTSA women host Rice in regular-season finale laced with tournament implications

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The stakes are high for the UTSA women’s basketball team as it hosts the Rice Owls tonight in an American Athletic Conference regular-season finale at the Convocation Center. Tipoff between the Roadrunners and the Owls is set for 6:30 p.m.

With the five-day AAC tournament set to open Saturday in Fort Worth, the seeding and the schedule for the 14-team postseason event will be sorted out over the next few days. Much of the picture will come into focus after tonight, with six conference games on the schedule. The final piece of the puzzle is expected to fall into place after Florida Atlantic plays at Temple in the AAC finale on Wednesday night.

The tournament opens Saturday in Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena, with two games involving the AAC’s four lowest seeds. It will continue on Sunday with those two survivors thrown into a mix of teams seeded from fifth through 10th. The top four seeds will gain a double-bye through the bracket and will open play in the quarterfinals on Monday, March 11.

The AAC semifinals are set for March 12, followed by the finals on March 13. The winner of the AAC postseason title will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which has been one of UTSA coach Karen Aston’s goals since she came to San Antonio. In her three years at the helm, the Roadrunners have made steady progress, with this year’s squad showing a capability of beating some of the conference’s strongest teams.

Tonight, both UTSA and Rice will enter the Convocation Center with identical records, 15-13 overall and 9-8 in the conference. Both are among six teams locked into a six-way numerical tie for fourth. With the tangle of teams tied at 9-8, a UTSA team spokesman said it’s possible that the Roadrunners could emerge with a top-four tournament seed or, alternately, he said they also could fall into the bottom four placements.

To attain the best outcome, obviously, the Roadrunners need to beat the Owls.

AAC standings

(AAC women’s basketball standings have been adjusted to reflect the tiebreakers and seedings for the conference tournament. Tulsa, North Texas and Temple have clinched top three seeds)

Tulsa 12-5, 22-8
North Texas 12-5, 22-7
Temple 12-5, 18-11
Charlotte 9-8, 16-13
UTSA 9-8, 15-13
Memphis 9-8, 13-15
UAB 9-8, 18-11
Rice 9-8, 15-13
USF 9-8, 17-13
East Carolina 8-9, 15-13
SMU 8-9, 14-14
Florida Atlantic 6-11, 11-17
Wichita State 4-13, 8-21
Tulane 3-14, 10-18

Note: If the tournament were to start today, UTSA would be seeded fifth, a team spokesman said. Since UTSA is in a six-way tie for fourth, the order of those six teams has been determined by winning percentage only in contests against each other.

Tonight’s schedule

East Carolina at Charlotte, 5:30 p.m.
Wichita State at UAB, 6 p.m.
Tulsa at Tulane, 6 p.m.
Rice at UTSA, 6:30 p.m.
Memphis at North Texas, 6:30 p.m.
South Florida at SMU, 7 p.m.

Wednesday’s schedule

Florida Atlantic at Temple, 6 p.m.
End of regular season

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