The UTSA men’s basketball team kicked off the Conference USA (C-USA) Bonus Play Thursday, Feb. 28, against the Old Dominion Monarchs. The ‘Runners (15-13, 9-6) fell short of the win, ending the game 65-64.
The Monarchs won the tip, setting the tone for a tight game in which neither team had more than a seven point lead. The ‘Runners missed their first six shots until senior forward Nick Allen scored a basket, putting UTSA on the board. The ‘Runners shot 27 percent at the opening of the first half, as their defense held the Monarchs from increasing the lead.
Redshirt freshman forward Adrian Rodriguez was fouled towards the close of the first half, making both one-and-one free throws to seal a 9-0 ‘Runner lead, increasing their the score to 22-20. Guard Jhivvan Jackson, who clenched a game-high 21 points, knocked down a trey increasing the ‘Runner lead to 27-22, but the Monarchs’ offense answered with a 10-4 streak. This claimed the lead with seconds left in the first half. Junior guard Giovanni De Nicolao drained a 65-foot buzzer-beater at the close of the first half to put the ‘Runners in the lead 34-32.
At the start of the second half, the Monarchs put up 10 unanswered points, as the ‘Runner defense scrambled to regain the lead. Jackson put up a fast break lay-up to start the Roadrunners on a 7-0 scoring streak. With three minutes left in the game, Keaton Wallace tied the game with a three-point fadeaway. The ‘Runners pressed for the remaining minutes of the game, but the team fell short, ending the game with a one point deficit 65-64.
The Roadrunners clenched redemption in their second game of Bonus Play against the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers on March 3. The ‘Runners came off this win with a 1-1 record in Bonus Play.
The ‘Runners began the game utilizing Jackson and Wallace in offense with Jackson hitting two long distance shots, putting the ‘Runners in the lead in the first half. The Roadrunners came out with a strong defense, forcing many UAB turnovers. The ‘Runners made 12 of their first 15 shots, including four of six from behind the arc. Jackson increased the score, 36-26 going into half with a three point fade away as the buzzer sounded.
Coming into the second half, the ‘Runners defense became hectic which UAB to close the point gap to 55-51, with 10 minutes remaining. Jackson scored the first points of the half, and Wallace hit his 1,000-point threshold. The ‘Runners offense struggled to hold onto the lead as the close of the game came into view. The team leaned on Wallace and Jackson, who scored 27 points this game, with one minute remaining. Wallace drove to the baseline and found junior Byron Frohnen open under the basket to increase the lead 72-67. UAB’s defense full-court pressed with 25 seconds on the clock, fouling Jackson. Jackson made both of his one-and-one free throws and scored the last points of the game. The Roadrunners ended the game on top, 76-70.
The ‘Runners will be back in action Wednesday, March 6, against Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to continue the C-USA Bonus Play.