— UTSA Basketball (@UTSAMBB) March 12, 2020
Clinging to a one-point lead in the last minute, the UAB Blazers knocked down six straight free throws down the stretch to hold off the UTSA Roadrunners 74-69 Wednesday night in the first round of the Conference USA tournament.
With the loss, UTSA’s season has come to an end. The Roadrunners finished 13-19. The Blazers will move on to play Western Kentucky Thursday night in the tournament, which is being played at Frisco.
The game was played against the frightening national back-drop of a threat from COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus.
During the day, the NCAA Tournament took a hit when it was announced that fans would not be allowed to attend the games.
Several conferences, including Conference USA, also announced that they were closing their tournaments to all except for players, players’ families, coaches, staff and credentialed media.
In addition, the most shocking development came when the NBA announced it had suspended its season “until further notice” after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, the 10th-seeded Roadrunners were playing to extend what had been a disappointing season, finally coming up short to the No. 7 Blazers.
Keaton Wallace scored 28 points to lead the Roadrunners. Jhivvan Jackson, UTSA’s all-time leading scorer and the No. 1 scorer in the C-USA, was held to 12 points on 4 of 17 shooting.
It was a tough day for Jackson, who had enjoyed the best individual, single-season scoring effort in school history. He never found a rhythm, tying for his second-lowest point total in 32 games.
UTSA coach Steve Henson, interviewed on the team’s post-game radio show, expressed some frustration at how the team was able to get Wallace on a hot streak, while Jackson struggled.
“Jhivvan’s been so good here, and Keaton’s been struggling as of late,” Henson told Andy Everett on KTKR radio, The Ticket. “So we just talked to ’em real briefly. We didn’t have a ton of practice time. We just talked about sliding Keaton off the ball, just maybe trigger that thought.
“Knew it really wouldn’t play itself out that much, in terms of how often Jhivvan was the point (guard) and Keaton was off. I still think that’s a little bit overrated. But, maybe that clicked for Keaton.
“He didn’t have to initiate the offense for the first two or three minutes. We got some screens for him and got his first few shots to go down. That part was terrific. Downside was Jhivvan never got going.”