By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
The UTSA Roadrunners gave up most of a double-digit lead in the final minutes Monday night and then escaped with an 89-87, non-conference road victory against the Houston Christian Huskies. Forward Dre Fuller Jr., who led UTSA with a season-high 24 points, said he will take it.
“Winning on the road is extra, extra hard,” Fuller told Andy Everett on the team’s radio broadcast. “You walk in the gym (seemingly) down 20 already, with the refs and the opponent, so we just had to just fight and keep going.”
Ahead by one point at halftime, the Roadrunners built leads as large as 11 points three times in the second half, only to see the Huskies keep battling. In crunch time, UTSA’s Isaiah Wyatt hit a layup for an 81-70 lead with 5:40 remaining.
But the Huskies kept playing and stayed within striking distance. The Roadrunners also pushed back, with Adante’ Holiman driving to the rim and getting fouled with six seconds to go. Holiman missed the first one and made the second for a three-point lead.
On HCU’s next possession, Fuller fouled Michael Imariagbe just as he advanced past halfcourt. Imariagbe made the first free throw and then missed the second one on purpose. Bruce Carpenter rebounded and had a decent look at the basket inside the top of the key, but he misfired at the buzzer.
“Road wins are good, however they come,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “Should have been a little cleaner. Wish it would have been a little smoother down the stretch. Both halves, we had good stretches in the middle … built that lead and then didn’t hang on to it very well.”
For UTSA, the win was a relief after dropping three in a row — all on the road — at Minnesota, Lamar and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Along with Fuller, point guard Christian Tucker played well. Tucker finished with 15 points, eight assists and five rebounds. Chandler Cuthrell came off the bench for 10 points and six boards.
Marcus Greene led the Huskies with 23 points. Jay Alvarez scored 19. Imariagbe enjoyed a big night with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Bonke Maring scored 16.
Houston Christian 0-3
Jacksonville State (Ala.) at UTSA, Friday, at noon
After beating Western Illinois at home to start the season, the Roadrunners embarked on a stretch of four straight games away from home. They lost by 26 points at Minnesota, by eight at Lamar and by 10 at Texas State before winning by two at Houston Christian.
UTSA coach Steve Henson shuffled his starting lineup against the Huskies. He started Trey Edmonds and Dre Fuller at the forwards, Isaiah Wyatt on the wing and Adante’ Holiman and Christian Tucker at guard. Wyatt, a 6-4 swing man, was the new starter replacing 7-foot Carlton Linguard Jr., who came off the bench.
Henson said his original starters weren’t do anything wrong so much as he just wanted to shake things up after a few losses.
“We lost a couple of ball games, so we wanted to mix things up,” Henson said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys that have earned the opportunity to play and start. Also was hoping Carlton would relax a little bit. Coming off the bench sometimes that helps guys. He’s a big part of what we do. We need him to be really comfortable out there.”
Linguard finished with 10 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. Wyatt had seven points and four rebounds in 21 minutes. Leading the way were Fuller and Tucker, who serves as a lead guard along with Holiman. Tucker came up big with 15 points, eight assists and five rebounds.