The UTSA men’s basketball team (10-21, 3-15 C-USA) came into the game amidst another slump, going 1-6 in conference play during the month of February. With the last two games of the regular season being against North Texas (23-4, 16-2 C-USA) and Rice (15-15, 7-11 C-USA), the Roadrunners were looking for any source of momentum heading into the Conference USA tournament. Though the ‘Runners got dominated by UNT in a 59-48 loss, they took care of business on senior day by winning against Rice 82-71.
Thursday night’s game against North Texas on March 3 started with Roadrunners immediately on their back foot. Within the first 14 seconds, UNT hit a three and about 40 seconds later hit another to go up 6-0 on UTSA early. By the time there were three minutes left in the first half, UNT seemed to be pulling away and just absolutely dominating the ‘Runners on defense. The score at half was 28-17 and neither team shot the ball well at all. UTSA already had eight turnovers, 0 of 5 from three and 27.8% from the field.
Coming out of halftime, UTSA’s Jacob Germany scored nine quick points within the first four minutes and went on a 12-4 run to close the gap 32-29. The Roadrunners started to take care of the basketball with just one turnover the entire second half, and UNT scored just four points until there were 13 minutes left in the game. From there, the shooting slump was just too much for UTSA to overcome, and UNT then went on an 8-2 scoring run to bring the lead up to 11 points. From there the two teams just went back-and-forth by trading made shots to end the game with a 59-48 Mean Green win. As has been symptomatic of most of their losses, only two ‘Runners were in double figures in the loss, with Jacob Germany’s 17 points and Darius McNeill’s 12. Erik Czumbel and Coach Henson both acknowledged UNT’s great closing defense and stated that is why they are the number one team in the conference. UTSA made just one three-pointer for the entirety of the game.
The energy for senior day felt different. All the players and coaches were laughing and smiling as if they were in the championship game. As soon as the game started, Czumbel got a quick four points and was off to the races. UTSA went up 15-6, and just as the score was cut within a couple of points, Dhieu Deing came off the bench and hit back-to-back threes to re-light everyone’s fire. The score at half was 40-34 and all was well. After the first 10 minutes of the second half, the score got wider and UTSA was showing pure dominance. The final score was 82-71, with UTSA leading wire-to-wire, shooting 48.1% from three, 51.7% from the field and having nine less turnovers than Rice. Continuing the common trait with UTSA wins, the ‘Runners had four players in double figures led by Czumbel with a career-high of 22 points, Dhieu Deing with 19, Isaiah Addo-Ankrah with 14 and Germany with 13.
The ‘Runners look to feed off this momentum Tuesday night, March 7, in Frisco for the conference tournament against Southern Mississippi.