Jared Savage knocked down three 3-point shots in overtime Thursday night as Western Kentucky Hilltoppers subdued the UTSA Roadrunners, 96-88, in Conference USA.
Jhivvan Jackson scored a career-high 46 points, the third most in UTSA school history.
In the game played at Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Hilltoppers overcame a career-high, 46-point effort from UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson.
UTSA’s Keaton Wallace scored 26.
Charles Bassey led the Hilltoppers with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Western Kentucky point guard Lamonte Bearden had 22 points and seven assists.
But it was Savage, a junior from Bowling Green, who hit the shots that mattered in the extra period.
His third in the overtime lifted the Hilltoppers into a 91-85 lead with 1:38 remaining.
UTSA made a crucial turnover in the final seconds of regulation that allowed Western Kentucky to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Byron Frohnen inbounded to Jackson, who tried to pass it back to Frohnen. But Bearden stepped in to make the steal.
Fouled on the play, Bearden went to the line and made one of two free throws, tying the game at 78-78.
The Roadrunners still had a chance as they rushed the ball upcourt, but a Giovanni De Nicolao runner was off the mark.
Record-setting effort spoiled
The loss negated one of the greatest individual performances in UTSA history.
Jackson hit 16 of 31 shots from the field, including 8 of 14 from three. The 6-foot sophomore from Puerto Rico was 6 of 8 on free throws.
In the end, he finished with the scoring record for an opposing player at E.A. Diddle Arena, the second most points in C-USA history and the third most in UTSA history.
Jackson drove for a layup and made a couple of free throws early in the overtime, but in the face of intense pressure from the Western Kentucky defense, he missed his last three attempts.
For Western Kentucky, Bassey sank 7 of 8 from the field and pulled down four rebounds off the offensive glass.
The 6-11, 245-pounder from Nigeria played two years at San Antonio’s St. Anthony Catholic High School before transferring to Aspire Academy in Louisville last season.
Western Kentucky 12-10, 5-4
UTSA 12-10, 6-3
The Roadrunners had a four-point lead with a little more than a minute left in regulation and couldn’t close out the game. As a result, they were knocked out of first place in the C-USA standings.
“(I’m) sick for our guys. You know, we got to find a way to win that game. Just finish it. We turned it over, missed a free throw, turned it over again. We put ourselves in a position (and then) they make a couple of threes, bank in a three, and we lose. That just can’t happen. We gotta find a way to win that game.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson, in comments aired on the team’s radio broadcast.
Calling UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace “two of the better guards … in the country,” Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury said it’s not surprising that the Roadrunners have surged into a tie for first place in Conference USA.
The coach made his remarks on the eve of his team’s C-USA home game tonight against the surprising Roadrunners in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
“They’re 6-2 for a reason,” Stansbury said. “They’ve got two of the better guards — not just in this league — in the country.
“When you’ve got guys … that can shoot it like that, you can come back from 17 down with three minutes and 45 seconds left.”
Trailing by 18 points with 4 minutes and 43 seconds remaining last Saturday in San Antonio, UTSA wiped out the deficit and beat Old Dominion, 74-73.
Perhaps more remarkably, the Roadrunners were behind by 17 with 3:45 left and still beat the Monarchs, thanks to the shooting of Jackson and Wallace.
The 18-point comeback is said to be the second largest point differential ever erased in NCAA Division I for a team trailing with less than five minutes on the clock.
The record is believed to be a 19-point deficit that was wiped out by the Nevada Wolf Pack in 2017, when they beat New Mexico, 105-104, in overtime and on the road.
For the Roadrunners, the performance against ODU was the third double-digit deficit that they have erased this season in a winning effort.
Previously, they knocked off Houston Baptist after falling behind by 11. They also beat UTEP after trailing by 10.
Stansbury pointed out that the Roadrunners nearly did it at Middle Tennessee, two weeks ago, as well.
In that game, the Roadrunners were down by 21 in the second half and ended up losing by three.
“They’re a really explosive team, offensively,” Stansbury said. “Jackson and Wallace can score that ball in bunches, in a hurry. When you’ve got guards that can do that, you got a chance against anybody on a given night.”
Jackson is leading C-USA, averaging 22 points per game. Wallace is fifth at 18.9.
Two freshmen, Taveion Hollingsworth and Charles Bassey, lead Western Kentucky and make the Hilltoppers one of the most dangerous teams in the conference.
Hollingsworth leads the Hilltoppers with 15.2 points per game.
Bassey, a 6-foot-11 native Nigerian who played at St. Anthony in San Antonio, averages 14.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks.
In what should be a revealing trip for UTSA, the Roadrunners play at Western Kentucky tonight and at Marshall, in Huntington, West Virginia, on Saturday.
Marshall was the C-USA’s representative in the NCAA Tournament last season.
UTSA 12-9, 6-2
Western Kentucky 11-10, 4-4
.@WKUBasketball's Charles Bassey has filled the stat sheet defensively this season. The freshman center is 1 of 2 players in the entire nation with at least 200 rebounds, 45 blocks and 20 steals this season. #GoTopspic.twitter.com/pHEH9Sarsl
Houston Baptist University guard Jalon Gates said it felt good to win in San Antonio.
Guard Jalon Gates returned to the area where he played his high school basketball, and he put on a show for his family and friends.
The former Clemens standout scored 18 points — all in the second half — leading the Houston Baptist Huskies to a come-from-behind, 96-92 victory over the Incarnate Word Cardinals.
With about 20 people cheering him on in an HBU road game at the UIW McDermott Center, the son of “Hoop Dreams” Chicago playground legend Will Gates, Sr., hit 6 of 7 shots from the field and 5 of 7 free throws.
“I’ve actually struggled in the past playing here,” Jalon Gates said. “So to get a win here, to get us off to a winning streak, it’s a blessing.”
Houston Baptist 6-13, 2-6
Incarnate Word 6-15, 1-7
Houston Baptist — Braxton Bonds, 27 points on 12 of 15 shooting. Also, 4 assists and 2 steals. Jalon Gates, 18 points, all in the second half. Ty Dalton, 11 points and 7 rebounds. Stephen O’Suji 10 points, including 2 three-pointers.
Incarnate Word — Dwight Murray, Jr., 20 points, including 4 three-pointers. Jordan Caruso, 18 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds. Christian Peevy, 15 points, 5 rebounds. Augustine Ene, 15 points, with 3 three-pointers.
Both Houston Baptist and Incarnate Word entered the game with losing records and long dry spells. HBU had lost six straight. UIW had lost five in a row. As a result, both played with a passion, trying to break out of their respective funks. It was a hotly-contested game, with 15 ties and 20 lead changes.
After giving up a couple of easy buckets to start the second half, the Cardinals put together their best run, a 12-0 streak. Jordan Caruso’s jumper with 15:54 remaining capped it and lifted the Cardinals into a 57-48 lead, their largest of the game.
Clearly, offense ruled the night. UIW hit 30 of 53 from the floor (for 56.6 percent) and HBU connected on 37 of 66 (for 56.1). But the Huskies clamped down a little better in the second half, which started to turn the tide. In the meantime, the visitors kept shooting with a hot hand, knocking down 20 of 29 (for 69 percent) after intermission.
HBU guard Braxton Bonds snares a rebound and one-hands a pass to Jalon Gates, who dunks for a six-point Huskies lead with 11 seconds left.
Making plays in crunch time
With 2:24 remaining, UIW forward Christian Peevy hit a couple of free throws to tie the game, 88-88.
From there, Houston Baptist made most of the plays to win the game. Gates was big, scoring his team’s last eight points, including a break-away dunk with 11 seconds remaining that made it 95-89.
“We got a bunch of young bucks, and we got to do a better job of executing down the stretch,” UIW coach Carson Cunningham said. “I give Houston Baptist credit. They were able to make the plays late.”
Another bad break
For the third straight game, UIW played without guard Morgan Taylor. The freshman from Chicago has a broken hand, a spokesman said. Cunningham said he’s uncertain when the team’s leader in minutes played per game, and also its second leading scorer, can return.
The discussion around the Houston Cougars basketball program no longer involves whether the team will play in the NCAA Tournament.
Rather, the speculation about coach Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars mostly centers on the tournament seeding process and how high the seed might be.
It’s a reflection of how fast Sampson’s program has improved in the past few years.
On Sunday, the once-beaten Cougars became the first team in the nation to 20 victories with a 77-65 victory at Tulsa. On Monday, they moved up four spots in the AP Top 25 to 13th in the nation.
Houston continues to play elite-level basketball, winning five in a row since a 73-69 loss at Temple on Jan. 9.
When the Cougars play the Owls in the rematch Thursday in Houston, they’ll do so ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense (60.2) and second in field goal percentage defense (36.4).
Such consistency bodes well for the Cougars in their quest to win the American Athletic Conference title and make another strong showing in the NCAAs.
Last year, the Cougars made the tournament for the first time under Sampson’s leadership.
They won a Round of 64 game and were stunned in the R32 when Jordan Poole drained a buzzer-beating three to lift the Michigan Wolverines to a 64-63 victory in Wichita.
This year, the Cougars look more potent than ever.
Not only is it difficult to score on Houston, it’s also a pain in the neck to guard them, with Armoni Brooks and Corey Davis both averaging 14 points.
A lot can happen between now and tournament selection day, but forecasters are projecting the Cougars to land an NCAA seed as high as third.
All of which means the Cougars could be riding high again in March.
AP Top 25
1. Tennessee 18-1 SEC
2. Duke 17-2 ACC
3. Virginia 18-1 ACC
4. Gonzaga 19-2 West Coast
5. Michigan 19-1 Big Ten
6. Michigan State 18-3 Big Ten
7. Kentucky 16-3 SEC
8. Nevada 19-1 Mountain West
9. North Carolina 15-4 ACC
10. Marquette 18-3 Big East
11. Kansas 16-4 Big 12
12. Virginia Tech 16-3 ACC
13. Houston 20-1 American
14. Villanova 16-4 Big East
15. Louisville 15-5 ACC
16. Texas Tech 16-4 Big 12
17. Purdue 14-6 Big Ten
18. Buffalo 18-2 Mid American
19. LSU 16-3 SEC
20. Iowa State 15-5 Big 12
21. Maryland 16-5 Big Ten
22. Mississippi State 15-4 SEC
23. North Carolina State 16-4 ACC
24. Wisconsin 14-6 Big Ten
25. Florida State 15-5 ACC
UTSA players celebrate after time runs out in the Roadrunners’ come-from-behind, 74-73 victory over Old Dominion on Saturday at the Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander
Trailing by 18 points with a little less than five minutes remaining Saturday afternoon, the UTSA Roadrunners appeared well on their way to a blowout loss at home against the rugged Old Dominion Monarchs.
As it turned out, appearances didn’t mean all that much on a magical day at the UTSA Convocation Center.
Keaton Wallace scored a game-high 29 points with nine 3-pointers, including the game winner with 15 seconds remaining. – Photo by Joe Alexander.
The Roadrunners rallied with a miraculous 25-6 run in the final 4 minutes and 43 seconds to defeat the Monarchs, 74-73, seizing a share of the lead in Conference USA.
“I’m at a loss for words,” UTSA guard Keaton Wallace said. “That was a great team win.”
A steal by Byron Frohnen set up the winning play for UTSA.
It gave one last possession to the Roadrunners, who watched as Wallace brought the ball up and circled into the right corner.
From there, he launched an off-balance three-pointer that swished with 15 seconds remaining to account for the final score.
Old Dominion immediately pushed the ball to the other end, only to miss on three shot attempts to win the game.
After the last miss by Justice Kithcart, the horn sounded, prompting the crowd to erupt with a roar.
With fans standing and cheering, UTSA players rushed off the bench to celebrate the program’s largest comeback since officials started charting such things in 2006-07.
In the final 4:43, Old Dominion had the game under control, leading 67-49.
Nick Allen promptly hit a three for UTSA. But B.J. Stith sank a two, keeping the Monarchs comfortably in front, 69-52, with 3:44 remaining.
The lead didn’t last long. UTSA started to pressure with its defense and play faster on offense, nailing six more threes.
Jhivvan Jackson scored 10 points in UTSA’s 25-6, game-ending burst. – Photo by Joe Alexander
They came roaring back to win, generating significant momentum in the C-USA title chase along the way.
Knocking off a team that had held the lead in the conference was significant. It elevated UTSA into a three-way tie for first with North Texas and UAB, with all three at 6-2.
Old Dominion dropped to second at 6-3.
“We needed to win a game like this,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “North Texas has a good record. But to this point, we haven’t beaten many of the real good teams … This was a big win for us, from that standpoint.
“You know, Old Dominion is one of the favorites for the league title. You know, long way to go. But, we’re in a good spot right now. We’re healthy. Chemistry is fantastic. Guys are embracing their roles. That gives us a chance to win every night.”
Old Dominion 16-6, 6-3
UTSA 12-9, 6-2
The Roadrunners swept the homestand, knocking off Charlotte 88-43 on Thursday night and then defeating Old Dominion with the historic game-ending rally. UTSA has won 9 of its last 11 and 12 of 16 leading into next week’s road trip to Western Kentucky and Marshall. The Roadrunners have won eight in a row at home. Wallace tied a career high with nine three pointers.
“You know, I’m not even really sure what happened.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson in his opening remarks to reporters.
“We actually practice that shot, fading to the baseline. I already knew it was going in.” — UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson, on Keaton Wallace’s game winner.
UTSA — Keaton Wallace, 29 points on 9 of 17 shooting, including 9 of 15 on three-pointers. Jhivvan Jackson, 21 points, 7 of 24 from the field, 4 rebounds, 5 assists. Nick Allen, 13 points on 5 of 9 shooting, three 3-pointers.
Guard Xavier Green drains a three-point shot early in the second half as the Old Dominion Monarchs start to pull away.
Grinding it out early
Riding the steady play of Stith and Caver, the Monarchs surged to a 40-36 lead on UTSA at halftime. Stith scored 17 points and Caver had 10 for Old Dominion. Much to the chagrin of the UTSA home crowd, the Monarchs aided their cause with 12 of 15 shooting at the free-throw line, including 8 of 9 by Stith. For UTSA, Jackson missed 11 shots from the field. But, fortunately for the Roadrunners, Wallace scored 17 in the half on five threes.
Old Dominion started to dominate the game after intermission. UTSA’s offense seemed stagnant, and ODU took advantage. In one stretch, the Monarchs outscored the Roadrunners 15-2, with point guard Ahmad Caver scoring seven of the points.
Mounting a comeback
With 4:43 remaining, Caver sank a jumper to give Old Dominion a seemingly insurmountable 67-49 lead.
From there, UTSA outscored the visitors 25-6 to the buzzer. During the run, the Roadrunners held the Monarchs to a field goal by Stith and four free throws. Fouled intentionally on most possessions, ODU made only 4 of 10 at the line down the stretch.
The Roadrunners, on the other end, were lighting it up with seven 3-point baskets. Wallace hit three of them, and Jackson and Allen hit two apiece. During the streak, Jackson scored 10 of his team’s points, with Wallace adding nine and Allen six.
Jackson hits the deck after his layup drew UTSA to within two with 32 seconds left.
Coming up big
Wallace was clutch in the last 90 seconds, hitting all three of his 3-pointers in that stretch. First, he nailed one that brought the Roadrunners to within five with 1:15 remaining. Next, he hit again with 42 seconds left to make it a three-point game.
On the other end, Stith answered with one of two free throws, giving Old Dominion a 73-69 edge wth 37 seconds left. Five seconds later, Jackson flashed to the basket, received a pass from Byron Frohnen and sank a twisting layup to pull the Roadrunners within 73-71.
At that point, Frohnen made another big play, forcing a Stith turnover, which set up Wallace’s game-ending dramatics. Wallace got to the corner and swished it for the game’s final points. On the other end, Xavier Green, Stith and Kithcart misfired for Old Dominion, giving the win to UTSA.
Emotions overflow on the UTSA bench and throughout the Convocation Center at the end of Saturday’s game. After Wallace hits out of the corner for the go-ahead basket, Old Dominion misses three times in the last 15 seconds, setting off a wild celebration.
Old Dominion players stage a dunking exhibition in warmups for today’s game at UTSA.
The Old Dominion Monarchs walloped the UTSA Roadrunners 100-62 a year ago in Norfolk, Virginia.
It’s still a painful memory for the Roadrunners, who remember that ODU guard B.J. Stith exploded for 28 of his game-high 36 points before halftime.
UTSA sophomore Keaton Wallace averages 18.8 points per game on the season but is scoring 19.7 in conference. – Photo by Joe Alexander
The Monarchs led by 16 at intermission, broke out to a 29-point lead with 13 minutes remaining and then polished off a 38-point victory when a freshman, Marquis Godwin, hit a three-pointer with a minute remaining.
“That was a bad game for us,” UTSA guard Keaton Wallace said. “I remember that dude got hot on us. (B.J.) Stith ended up getting hot on us, and it was hard for us to come back after that, so we owe them.”
Payback is only part of the motivation today as the Roadrunners host the Monarchs at 3 p.m. at the Convocation Center.
First place in Conference USA is also at stake.
“You know, we didn’t specifically talk to our players about it being for a piece of the lead,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “It’s a big game for a lot of reasons. Our guys respect Old Dominion. They’ve been a terrific program.”
Old Dominion is in first in the C-USA standings at 6-2, followed by UTSA, North Texas, Marshall and UAB, all tied at 5-2.
On Thursday night, the Roadrunners rolled to an 88-43 home victory over the Charlotte 49ers, while the Monarchs won on the road, 50-48, over the UTEP Miners.
Leading by 11 points with nine minutes lef, the Monarchs scrambled to hold off the Miners with two defensive stops in the final minute.
Coach Steve Henson (left) and assistant Mike Peck have led UTSA into a tie for second place in Conference USA. – Photo by Joe Alexander
Today, they’ll show up at the Convocation Center with a swagger, led by Stith and Ahmad Caver, not to mention a deep pool of other quality athletes.
“You know, they do a good job,” Henson said Friday afternoon. “They’ve got an identity. They keep guys in their system. They have veteran guys. (They’re a) great defensive team, (with) two superstars.”
That being said, Henson acknowledged that the Roadrunners are feeling good, without too many nagging injuries and are playing with confidence.
“So, it’ll be exciting to see our guys respond,” he said.
This year, the C-USA’s schedule is different.
On Feb. 16, the conference will divide the 14 teams into three groups based on the standings, with teams in each tier, or pod, playing round robin to determine the final seedings for the C-USA tournament.
Wallace said he is keeping an eye on the standings every day.
“I’m trying to get that top five for the top-five pod,” he said, “so we can play for first.”
Old Dominion 6-2, 16-5
North Texas 5-2, 17-3
UAB 5-2, 13-7
Marshall 5-2, 12-8
UTSA 5-2, 11-9
FIU 4-3, 13-7
WKU 4-3, 11-9
LA Tech 4-4, 14-7
Rice 3-4, 8-12
SouthernMiss 3-5, 11-9
FAU 2-5, 11-9
MiddleTenn 2-5, 5-15
Charlotte 2-6, 5-14
UTEP 1-6, 6-12
Old Dominion at UTSA, 3 p.m.
WKU at LA Tech, 4 p.m.
Marshall at Southern Miss, 4 p.m.
Middle Tennessee at North Texas, 5 p.m.
FAU at FIU, 6 p.m.
UAB at Rice, 7 p.m.
Charlotte at UTEP, 8 p.m.
On a first-half breakout Thursday night against Charlotte, UTSA reserve guard Adokiye Iyaye sped down one sideline and stationed himself in the corner.
He looked up to see a bullet pass coming his way.
UTSA freshman Adokiye Iyaye is averaging 5.7 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting for the season. –Photo by Joe Alexander.
After making the catch, he knew exactly where he wanted to go with the ball.
Straight to the basket.
Iyaye flashed down the baseline and scored on an easy layup before the 49ers’ defense had time to rotate.
Even though Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace have led the Roadrunners offensively all year, plays like this have started to happen much more frequently lately for the Roadrunners, who will host the Conference USA-leading Old Dominion Monarchs Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.
Iyaye has hit 14 of 19 shots from the field over his last five games, helping UTSA surge into a tie for second place in the conference race.
In an 88-43 rout of Charlotte, the program’s most lopsided victory in conference play in 28 years, Iyaye hit 5 of 6 shots from the field and tied a career high with 12 points.
Teammates say that Iyaye has always had the ability but is just now developing more confidence as he moves along in his first year of college basketball.
“We know that he’s going to make the right decision, make the right plays, take the right shots,” Wallace said. “In practice, he’s been picking it up. Better defensively, better offensively.
“We just expect good things out of Adokiye.”
Jackson said Iyaye has “stepped up big” in the team’s pursuit of a conference title.
“We want him to do that,” Jackson said. “He can do that every night, if he just plays the way he did (against the 49ers). He’s getting more confident. We just tell him to keep going. We tell him to take more shots if he’s open.
“He’s (also) helped us on the defensive end, putting pressure on the ball. Just making plays.”
Last year, Iyaye was the man for his high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He averaged 18 points per game and led Putnam to the Class 6A title.
This year, it’s been a new experience for him, both in coming off the bench and in facing bigger and faster players.
Now he’s picking up the nuances of the college game at a rapid pace, as evidenced by his recent statistics — 7 points per game and 73.6 percent shooting in his last five.
Not bad for a kid from Tulsa who just turned 19.
“I’m finding my groove a little bit,” Iyaye said. “My teammates, they’re always on me, telling me that I’m going to be fine.”
“I wasn’t making shots early, but they keep telling me to shoot and give me a lot of encouragement. They’re like my big brothers.
“Hearing that every day, it makes me feel like, if I have a bad game, I’ll do better next time.”