Although they are currently on a six-game losing streak, the UTSA men’s basketball team has shown that they are close to being competitive in Conference USA (C-USA).
In Saturday’s game against the Marshall Thundering Herd (12-12, 8-3 C-USA), the Roadrunners reached a season-high figure for total points in the 109-91 loss to the third-place C-USA opponent.
The Thundering Herd started strong, scoring the first seven points and leading by double figures for the majority of the first half.
The Roadrunners came back late in the first, coming within five points of Marshall before a technical foul on the bench gave the Herd four straight free throws. After making all four shots, Marshall went on a 7-4 run to lead 52-40 at the half.
In the second, the Herd continued its offensive onslaught, scoring 57 points shooting 56.3 percent from the field and 55 percent from the 3-point line.
Four of Marshall’s five starters finished in double figures. Sophomore guard Jon Elmore led the Thundering Herd with 23 points and eight assists. Senior forward James Kelly contributed 22 points and nine rebounds.
Marshall totaled 18 3-pointers – just one shy of their single-game school record – on 34 attempts.
“They take a lot of wild shots, some shots that would be questionable for other teams, but that’s their offense and they’re good at it,” said UTSA starting guard Ryan Bowie about Marshall’s outside shooting.
Bowie and fellow starting guard Christian Wilson continued to lead the Roadrunners’ offense. Wilson and Bowie combined to score 55 of the Roadrunners’ 91 points. Wilson finished with a career-high 29 points, shooting 8-for-20 from the field and 12-for-17 from the free-throw line. Bowie shot 9-for-22 from the field, including 4-for-11 from the 3-point line, and 4-for-5 from the free-throw line to finish with 26 points.
In spite of the team’s struggles, the backcourt of Wilson and Bowie has been a source of optimism for UTSA fans. Wilson’s 20.3 points per game and Bowie’s 16.7 are currently ranked third and eighth, respectively, among C-USA players.
“He’s got to be in the top half,” said Coach Thompson about Wilson’s place among C-USA guards. “We got some very good players in this league and very good point guards. What he’s doing right now is a new element and I’m glad he’s playing well.”
Bowie led the team with six rebounds – all in the defensive zone. Bowie, standing at six-foot-one, leads the Roadrunners in both offensive and defensive rebounds; his 170 total rebounds on the season is 74 more than second-place, six-foot-ten Lucas O’Brien, who has 96.
O’Brien, the only other Roadrunner besides Bowie to start all 24 games this season, was replaced by A.J. Cockrell, a freshman from Tulsa, Okla. after getting into foul trouble early in the second half.
Starting guard J.R. Harris went scoreless in 13 minutes in the first half. He scored three points in the first for minutes of the second half beforing being benched for the remainder of the game.
Junior forward Phillip Jones came off the bench to contribute 12 points and five rebounds. Like Wilson, Jones also received post-game praise from Thompson.
“It’s good to see him looking back to himself…he’s not as injured as he used to be,” said Thompson. “He’s getting healthy and he brings an athleticism to our team that we don’t have.”
The Roadrunners (4-20, 2-9 C-USA), currently at the bottom of C-USA, will travel to Florida to play Florida Atlantic (6-18, 4-7 C-USA) on Thursday, Feb. 11 and Florida International (11-13, 5-6 C-USA) on Saturday, Feb. 13. The next home game is against fourth-place Louisiana Tech (17-6, 6-4 C-USA) on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.