UTSA men’s basketball loses to Texas A&M-Corpus Christ in SLC quarterfinal game

Making their third straight appearance in the Southland Conference (SLC) tournament, the Roadrunners entered as one of the hottest teams winning their last six-of-seven games. But the Islanders of A&M-Corpus Christi were riding a team with veteran experience, as all but two of the ten players hadn’t played in the SLC tourney.

As the final whistle blew, the Roadrunners season would come to an end one game short of a 20-win season. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed and UTSA as the No. 6 seed.

“Obviously we’re very disappointed,” Head Coach Brooks Thompson said. “We have a locker room full of disappointed guys. I have to give Texas A&M-Corpus Christ a lot of credit. They played really well in the second half and we didn’t.”

Senior guard Omar Johnson vented his frustrations after the game. “We played really well in the first half and got away from that,” Johnson said. “You hate to say anything or be critical of your basketball team after a loss but I thought we quit doing what we were doing before. I thought the flow of our offense struggled. We didn’t change anything from a strategical standpoint, we just quit doing what we were doing in the first half.”

UTSA and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi split the series this season, with the Roadrunners winning in Corpus Christi, 57-56, on Feb. 17 after dropping an overtime loss on Jan. 23, 66-62, to the Islanders in San Antonio.

The Roadrunners featured 2009-2010 second team, All-SLC guard Devin Gibson. Gibson averaged 12.7 points per game as well as dishing out 4.5 assists per game. On Feb. 10, Gibson became the 13th player in UTSA history to reach 1,000 points; he now has 1,104 and ranks ninth all-time. Roadrunner guard Melvin Johnson III received Freshman of the Year. Seniors Omar Johnson and Morris Smith IV picked up honorable mention accolades as well.

Both teams shot over 50 percent in the first half, the orange and blue hitting 15 of 29 attempts while the Islanders converted 13 out of 23 shots. UTSA also connected on four out of five first half three-pointers. At half-time, the ‘Runners led 41-31.

After the break, the Islanders opened with a 23-8 run over the first 11 minutes of the second half to establish their first lead of the game since 19:32 in the first half. The Runners would trail 51-56 with 7:37 remaining, and would get no closer than six the rest of the game as A&M-Corpus Christi would extend their lead to as many as 16.

Islander and All-SLC first team selection Kevin Palmer would score 19 of his game-high 26 points in the second half; as a team, Corpus Christi shot 68 percent in the second half and 62.5 percent for the game.

Morris Smith IV would lead all Roadrunners with 16 points while grabbing eight boards. Omar Johnson added 13 points and dished three assists.

One game short of twenty wins, the Roadrunners returned to San Antonio with the frustration of wondering the what-ifs. “It’s unfortunate because we had a bunch of seniors who came here last year and got to the championship game and we felt like we could do it again,” coach Thompson said.