With first place on the line, the Roadrunners withstood a run by the UT-Arlington Mavericks and held on for a 70-62 win.
The Mavericks entered the game alone in first in the Southland West division at 4-2. The Roadrunners entered a game back at 3-3.
In the early stages, the Roadrunners overcame a 4-0 deficit and used a 17-5 run over ten minutes to go up 17-9 with 7:52 remaining in the first half.
The Mavericks gave a taste of what would happen the rest of the half as Bo Ingram drained a three in front of his own bench that cut the Roadrunners lead to 17-12 and more importantly gave momentum to the Mavericks.
The Roadrunners responded with a Jeromie Hill layup at the other end but that was countered by Cameron Catlett, a San Antonio native, who hit a layup that brought the Mavericks to within five at 19-14.
Again Hill had the answer at the other end as he knocked down a three that gave the Roadrunners a 22-14 lead with 6:11 remaining in the opening half.
Following a timeout, the Mavericks took control of those remaining six minutes and 11 seconds by going on a 12-2 run that was sparked by back to back three pointers.
The Mavericks would score the final points of the first half at the 1:09 mark on a Jordan Reves layup. They came close to going into the half up five points but Melvin Johnson III blocked the Mavericks shot as time expired on the half.
Despite the block, momentum appeared to have remained with the Mavericks after the half as they continued their run from the first half.
The Roadrunners were able to end the run when they tied the game at 28 with 17:45 remaining on a Hill layup.
It would be nearly seven minutes before the Roadrunners were able to tie the game again.
In that time the Mavericks hit three point shots like they were going out of style. In three straight possessions, the Mavericks hit a three point shot to go up 37-28.
The Mavericks outburst caused head coach Brooks Thompson to call a timeout.
Awakened by the timeout, the Roadrunners went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead down to two at 37-35 with 13:34 remaining in the game.
The Mavericks’ Armani Williams drained yet another three to go up 40-35, but the parade of threes would not be repeated as the Mavericks would wait 11 minutes for their next successful three point attempt.
In that span of time, the Roadrunners took control of the game, using a 19-7 run that saw them go up 54-47 when Ingram hit the Mavericks first three in ages to cut the Roadrunners lead nearly in half, 54-50 with 2:54 remaining.
Just as they had done after the previous three pointer, the Roadrunners responded by going up 10, 60-50 with 1:49 remaining.
The Mavericks weren’t going away easily as they went on a 7-0 run and got within three points, 60-57 with 1:18 remaining.
“I think UTSA really wants to do it the hard way,” Hill said jokingly. “We were up by ten and they cut it [to three] and that’s not good enough for where this team wants to be.”
The Roadrunners answered the run with a closing run of their own, in the final 88 seconds, the Roadrunners outscored the Mavericks 10-5 to pull out the victory and more importantly first place.
The final minute was not without excitement as the UT-Arlington head coach, Scott Cross, drew a technical foul for reacting to an officials call with 14 seconds remaining. It was only his first technical foul of the game but Cross stormed off the court as though he had been ejected.
Hill spoke of being part of the action that led to Cross becoming irate with the official.
“I think he knew it was over at 14 seconds, He got in[the officials] face and I guess he thought he got two tech fouls, Hill said. “I heard some of the things he said, but I can’t repeat them.”
The Roadrunners were led by Devin Gibson who had 24 points, followed by Melvin Johnson who pitched in 22 and Hill with 18. Stephen Franklin led the rebounding charge as he came down with nine of the team’s 35 rebounds.
Thompson was pleased with the performance of Franklin who played in the power forward position against the small lineup of the Mavericks.
“I am fine with the nine rebounds,” Thompson said. “He only took two shots which showed he was unselfish.”
Thompson complimented the Mavericks on their shooting perfomance.
“You have to give Arlington credit,” Thompson said. “They made some pretty darn good shots, we were fortunate the game went our way.”
The Roadrunners now will get ready to face Lamar in the annual homecoming game on Saturday.
“We have been reslilient all year long,” Thompson said. “I think the biggest key is that we have to go back to work and start working on Lamar.”
Tip-off for the Lamar game is Saturday at 7 p.m.