It was a game that got away from the UTSA Roadrunners (0-1) basketball team as they committed 13 turnovers in the second half on their way to a 74-63 loss to the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (1-0) at the Convocation Center on Saturday, Nov. 9.
In the first home game of the season, UTSA found themselves having problems moving the ball and forcing turnovers. These, coupled with a defensive lapse in the second half, put the Roadrunners behind by 19 points; UTSA could not make up the difference.
“We have to shore up our point guard play; if you have nine turnovers from your point guards, it’s going to be a long evening,” UTSA Head Coach Brooks Thompson said after the game. “But we’ll get better; we’ll move forward and get better.”
The few bright spots for UTSA came from senior Hyjii Thomas, who had a career-high 17 points and six rebounds to pace the Roadrunners. Junior Keon Lewis added a spark off the bench with 15 points.
“I was just being aggressive, seeing what the defense was giving me,” Thomas said. “Our team is kind of slow offensive-wise; I just had to pick it up. I feel like we played well, but some stretches we just had let downs and it really hurt us.”
The forced turnovers will need to be improved if the Roadrunners are going to compete this season, especially against far superior teams than Northern Arizona.
“I thought our turnovers were very silly, especially in the second half,” said Thompson. “We were throwing the ball places we never should have. We gave up 49 points in the second half; you’re not going to win many games doing that.”
The game started off rough for UTSA as they struggled to gain any momentum in the opening. Northern Arizona went on an 8-0 run to start the game, while UTSA started off shooting 0-for-6.
UTSA, perhaps feeling the anxiety of the first home game of the season, shrugged off their cold start and bounced back with a 9-0 run.
The Roadrunners had stout defense in the first half, registering four steals and two blocks, forcing the Lumberjacks to commit 11 turnovers.
Thomas’ first half performance kept UTSA in the game as he continually drew fouls while driving to the basket. Thomas went 6-for-8 from the free throw line.
But UTSA went cold and finished the first half shooting 25 percent, and Northern Arizona went on a 6-1 run in the final two and a half minutes to take a 25-21 lead.
“We were just lackadaisical,” said Thomas. “We were forgetting plays, forgetting to cut or holding the ball too long. It’s about slowing down and making the right plays and getting the practice in. We have to be able to think when we are tired.”
The second half started the same way the game began with Northern Arizona going on an 11-4 run.
With the score 37-29 and UTSA trailing, the Roadrunners had a string of three-point plays from Lewis and junior center Kaj-Bjorn Sherman that cut the lead down to three with nine minutes still left in the game; the seven-foot Sherman scored six of his eight points during that stretch.
That was as close as UTSA would get as Northern Arizona went on a 15-2 run and pushed the lead back to double-digits.
The Roadrunners will attempt to bounce back as they head to the Hofheinz Pavilion looking for their first win of the season against Houston (1-0) on Thursday, Nov. 14.