UTSA women reach for ‘re-set’ in the Postseason WNIT

Elyssa Coleman. UTSA beat Rice 60-52 in American Athletic Conference women's basketball on Tuesday, March 5, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Elyssa Coleman and the UTSA Roadrunners will host the Northern Colorado Bears tonight in the first round of the Postseason WNIT. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA women’s basketball players will try to hit the re-set button on their emotions Thursday night when they host the Northern Colorado Bears in the first round of the Postseason WNIT.

Last week, the Roadrunners had their hearts broken when they lost in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament in Fort Worth.

After giving up an 11-point lead and losing by one to the East Carolina Pirates, their dreams of a trip to the NCAA tournament were crushed.

UTSA coach Karen Aston acknowledged Wednesday that her players still may be experiencing the disappointment of the near miss in Fort Worth.

In that regard, she suggested that they might need to “re-set” emotionally before tipoff against Northern Colorado.

“I think they’re excited about the opportunity to play in the postseason but also trying to figure how to get over a disappointing loss, and maybe a missed opportunity,” Aston said. “So, it’s been a bit of a process to be happy and excited — and proud — about what they’ve done and what kind of year they’ve had.”

The Roadrunners already have achieved a milestone in clinching their first winning season since 2015. They’ve already made their mark with the first national postseason appearance since 2009, when they reached the NCAA tournament.

Now, if they can beat the Bears of the Big Sky conference, they can notch the first national postseason victory in the 43-year history of the program.

“You know,” Aston said, “that’s a good thing in a lot of ways, (that) they weren’t OK with what happened (last week). I appreciate that about them, so, to answer your question, (we just need) to get our competitive juices going again and get back to being who we can be.”

On Monday afternoon, Aston stopped practice at one juncture and let the players have it verbally. In so many words, she said she was troubled by the lack of focus and that she didn’t feel like they were giving their best effort.

The players apparently have responded. Aston said the workouts have been better and better as the week progressed.

“Today was a good day,” the coach said. “I feel good about us being ready to play tomorrow.”

UTSA center Elyssa Coleman said her teammates are thankful and excited to get to play again, and they hope to push past whatever feelings they may have had about last week.

She said it was “weird” because in years past players knew that a loss in the conference tournament definitely meant that the season was over.

“So, once we lost … knowing that we could, maybe, be picked for postseason, it was kind of like, you go through heartbreak,” she said. “But then you may or may not have any games after that, especially for our seniors, it was just really weird and uneasy.

“Thankfully, we got this opportunity.”

Coming up

Postseason WNIT, first round, Northern Colorado at UTSA, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
Winner plays Wyoming in the second round, site and date TBA


Northern Colorado 15-15, 10-8, tied for fourth, Big Sky Conference
UTSA 17-14, 10-8, tied for fourth, American Athletic Conference

Key players

UTSA averages, points/rebounds and other — Forward Jordyn Jenkins (15.1 / 7.3); Elyssa Coleman (10.9 / 7.7, 1.5 blocks); Kyra White (10.2 / 5.1, 4.7 assists); Aysia Proctor (10 / 4.9); Sidney Love (9.5 / 3.6, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals), Idara Udo (7.9 / 6.2).

Northern Colorado averages, points/rebounds and other — Forward Delaynie Byrne (13.6 / 8.0); guard Hannah Simental (12.4 / 3.6, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals); forward Aniah Hall (10.0 / 5.7) guard Seneca Hackley (9.0 / 3.0, 2.2 assists, 1.1 steals); Tatum West (7.8 / 4.6).


UTSA — Karen Aston took a program that was 2-18 the year before her arrival and built steadily, going 7-23, 13-19 and 17-14. Under Aston, who made a name for herself as a head coach at the University of Texas, the Roadrunners have reached a national postseason event for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The winning record is UTSA’s first since 2014-15. The 17 wins is the most since the ’08-’09 team, an NCAA tournament entry, finished 24-9.

Northern Colorado — Kristen Mattio has strung together records of 15-16, 13-18 and 15-15 in three seasons at Northern Colorado, which is based in Greeley. In her first season, her team went 9-11 in the Big Sky and reached the tournament semifinals. Last year, she went 5-13 and bowed out in the quarters. This year’s 10-8 record in conference was her team’s best, but the Bears lost again in the quarters, falling 47-44 in overtime to Montana State.

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