Guard Carlie Heineman drives to the basket. Chase Otero, The Paisano

Following a 2016 season in which they went 14-16, the UTSA women’s basketball team hopes to improve this season and achieve their first winning record since 2014. After combining for only 24 wins over the last two seasons, this ‘Runners team is a mix of both experienced players and talented underclassmen who are poised to make a run for a Conference-USA championship.

UTSA will seek to improve their ability to win at home as they only managed a 9-8 record at the Convocation Center. Home court advantage is a key component to any successful season; UTSA’s inability to establish an advantage last season was a contributing factor to another losing season. If they can turn their mediocre performance at home into an undeniable home court advantage, the ‘Runners will exceed expectations this season.

Another area of concern from last season was UTSA’s poor record in conference play. Even though they were able to finish conference play with a winning record of 10-8, the eight losses kept the ‘Runners from being serious contenders in Conference-USA. In order to have any shot at a conference championship this season, UTSA will need to improve their conference record. 

Looking ahead to this season, UTSA will be without their two leading scorers from the 2016 season. Leading scorer Lauryn Goodwin averaged 17.5 points per game along with 4.5 assists per game; she transferred to Oklahoma State. Second leading scorer Tesha Smith averaged 15.4 points per game and 7.9 rebounds and was one of two graduating seniors from last season. To make up for this loss, UTSA will look to seniors Crystal Chidomere and Carlie Heineman to lead the charge. During their junior season, this dynamic duo averaged 8.9 points per game collectively. If UTSA hopes to have a competitive season, Chidomere and Heineman will need to step their game up while leading a team laden with young talent.

So far this season, the ‘Runners have compiled a 1-1 record. Their first regular season game was a dominant victory over Sul Ross State, a game in which UTSA never trailed. The ‘Runners’ leading scorer sophomore Marie Benson scored 23 points on a scintillating 73 percent shooting performance. However, Benson did not carry the load alone, as this was a complete team victory. UTSA’s bench outscored the Sul Ross State bench by a whopping 45-point margin. Overall, this was a complete drubbing as the ‘Runners would go on to win by 50 points.

UTSA did not fare as well, however, in their second game of the season. The ‘Runners traveled to Tempe, Arizona to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils. Out of the gate, UTSA did not stand a chance against ASU. Benson was again the leading scorer, contributing 11 points in an ugly loss.

The UTSA ‘Runners have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about this upcoming season. They have a potent mixture of both senior leadership and young talent. They will look to turn heads in conference play and make a run for a conference title. The ‘Runners return home Nov. 15 to take on UT Arlington.

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