Ernest David Guel
The UTSA Roadrunners ended their basketball sea- son (13-19, 8-11 C-USA) this past Saturday. Jeff Beverly and Lucas O’Brien made a clear point in the final game that the Roadrunners can defeat anyone. Senior center Lucas O’Brien had his final home game March 4 which resulted in one last win for him and his team.
His enthusiastic words explained the team’s motivation going into the conference tournament with a win against Old Dominion, a top team in their conference. “If we can beat teams like this, there is no telling how far we can make it in the conference tournament. We have knocked out three of the top teams in our conference and we feel motivated to make something happen.” O’Brien said after his 17 point, eight rebound performance. Although he did foul out late in the second half, O’Brien still contributed everything he could in his final home game with the Roadrunners.
Beverly led the team with his explosive offense finishing the game with 24 points, going 9-17 from the field and going 100 percent from the free throw line.
O’Brien and senior J.R. Harris were both honored on senior night with a pregame ceremony. Harris, who missed the last 24 games this season due to injury, got to start for the Runners one last time.
At the opening tip, Old Dominion let UTSA win and Harris grabbed the ball and was immediately fouled. Harris checked out of the game and he was given a standing ovation.
To begin the first half, both teams began shooting lights out from outside. UTSA hit three of their first five attempts from downtown to take a 13-6 advantage early in the first half. The quick offense of Gino Littles also gave a spark to the Roadrunners as he hit multiple threes to give the Roadrunners their lead. UTSA ended the game with nine turnovers, but what saved them was their hot shooting from outside the arc and the free throw line.
As the second half began, UTSA went on a whopping 8-0 run, which resulted in a 58-43 lead. Defense was picking up in the second half for both teams, but not good enough as Beverly quickly squashed any hopes for a comeback, leading the Roadrunners past Old Dominion 73-55.
Things were not as pretty for the Roadrunners prior to this game as they lost Thursday, March 2 to Charlotte (13-15, 7-10 C-USA). What defeated the Roadrunners this game was giving away too many fast break points. Charlotte ended the night with 16 fast break points while UTSA ended with just two.
Starting the first half, Charlotte came out to perform the pick and roll to perfection. UTSA did not seem to have an answer for this and could not respond offensively as Charlotte quickly ran away with a 14- 20 lead over the Roadrunners. As time went by, Gino seemed to find his touch as he hit back to back threes to bring his team within one point going into the second half.
During the second half, both teams would not give up as shots were traded back and forth causing the lead to switch multiple times.
Beverly hit two crucial free throws to give UTSA the lead with four seconds left. Charlotte quickly in- bounded the ball to Jon Davis. As he broke the press of the Roadrunners, he threw up a prayer at the buzzer. The shot dropped, and the life was sucked out of the Convocation Center as Charlotte got the win over UTSA 76-75 in a thrilling last second victory.
“Stuff like this happens, and all we can do is learn from it and move on. We can’t sit here and mourn from this forever, we just have to focus on the next game and also the tournament.” Giovanni De Nicolao said after finishing with 12 points and three assists. “I’m proud of our guys tonight, I think we played a great game, even though we didn’t come out with the win; things like this happen and it can’t affect us too much.”
UTSA will head to Birmingham, Alabama next week as the No. 9 seed for the Conference-USA Tournament.