UTSA makes a key defensive play late, defeats Rice, 90-88

The UTSA Roadrunners spent most of Saturday night trying unsuccessfully to keep the Rice Owls from scoring.

Led by guard Ako Adams, Rice was hitting from everywhere, building an 11-point advantage with 12:35 remaining.

But down the stretch, the Roadrunners kept playing.

And then they got the stop that they needed, forcing a turnover on an inbounds play and racing the other way for the winning basket and a 90-88 victory over the slumping Owls in Houston.

After Rice inbounded, UTSA’s Byron Frohnen came up with a loose ball and passed ahead to freshman Erik Czumbel, who out-ran the defense and drove for a layup with one second remaining.

In response, the Owls threw up a desperation shot from three quarters of the court but the clock had expired, giving a much-needed Conference USA road victory to the Roadrunners.

Records

UTSA 10-11, 4-4
Rice 9-13, 1-8

Crazy ending

UTSA had a chance to break a tie score with less than a minute remaining when Jhivvan Jackson misfired on a long three. With the game deadlocked at 88-88, Rice called time with 32 seconds left.

The play went to Ako Adams, who was unstoppable for most of the game. But as Adams drove to the bucket Keaton Wallace blocked the shot, sending it out of bounds. Rice had possession under its own goal.

At that point, Drew Peterson inbounded. Frohnen came up with it for the Roadrunners and sent it out in a winning transition play that Czumbel, a freshman, finished with a left-handed drive.

Road success — at last

With the victory, UTSA improved to a modest 2-10 in games played away from home this season, including 2-6 on the road and 1-4 in Conference USA.

By the numbers

UTSA — Jackson, the nation’s second-leading scorer, tallied 14 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. He also had seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. Keaton Wallace kept UTSA in the game in the first half with 14 of his 24 points, and he added four rebounds and three assists.

Czumbel scored 11 on four of four shooting, including three of three from 3-point distance. He scored eight points after halftime.

Rice — In a devastating shooting display, the Owls hit 11 of their 18 three-pointers in the second half. Adams hit six of them. Payton Moore and Quincy Olivari three apiece. All told, the Owls were 18 of 35 from distance. Adams led the Owls with 21 points, while Josh Parrish had 17.

Streaks

UTSA had lost its last five games away from home — a neutral-site loss to Oregon State in Houston and four C-USA road games at Florida Atlantic, Florida International, UTEP and North Texas.

The Roadrunners’ last victory outside of San Antonio came on Dec. 7 in non-conference play at Texas State.

Rice has lost five games in a row overall and nine of its last 10.

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