The game looked a lot like some others that the UTSA Roadrunners had played on the road this year. Keaton Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson shot the ball well early, and UTSA jumped out to a 15-point lead.
Then in the second half, things changed.
The momentum, slowly, started to shift. The FIU Panthers, down by eight at halftime, kept plugging, kept chipping away. All of a sudden, Antonio Daye hit a jumper with 11:40 remaining, and the Panthers had seized a three-point edge.
Not to worry. The UTSA Roadrunners flipped the script on the season entirely down the stretch, making plays on both ends of the floor en route to their first road win of the season.
In another twist, a couple of players not named Jackson and Wallace contributed mightily in the final push for an 87-80 victory over the Panthers.
Forward Cedrick Alley Jr. anchored the paint on defense, while Eric Parrish scored seven points and crashed the boards for a few key offensive rebounds in the final 10 minutes.
As a result, the Roadrunners improved to 4-1 in their last five games to 1-8 on the road this season. Moreover, they gave themselves a chance to sweep the two-game series in Miami.
UTSA 9-9, 5-6
FIU 10-11, 2-9
UTSA at FIU, 1 p.m. Saturday
Wallace painted a masterpiece with 33 points and 7 rebounds. Jackson, playing with foul trouble most of the night, added 22 points. But this game wasn’t about eye-popping, three-point shooting, even though Wallace knocked down four of them and Jackson three. It was much more about the inspired play of Alley and Parrish down the stretch.
“It was very exciting to see the other guys (Parrish and Alley) make big plays. There was one stretch where we were scoring two or three, four trips in a row, and it wasn’t Jhivvan and Keaton. Those two had monster nights. But we would get a bucket from Ced. We’d get a bucket from Parrish. We’d get a bucket from (Jordan Ivy-Curry). That’s really, really exciting.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson.
Another storyline centered on the Roadrunners winning a game on an opponent’s home court. They hadn’t done it since February of 2020. At the end of last season, they won at Old Dominion and then dropped their last three road contests of the regular season. This year, they started the season 0-8 on the road, including a humbling 69-51 loss to UTEP last Saturday night in El Paso.
Feeling good again
“I feel like it was a sense of relief, a little bit, because this is our first road win. I think we’re 1-7 or 1-8 on the road, so getting this road win today was big for our confidence. Like I said, we got to be ready to do it again tomorrow.” — said Wallace, who hit 12 of 19 from the field.
FIU by the numbers
Forward Antonio Daye, Jr., 26 points on 12 of 26 shooting. Guard Tevin Brewer, 17 points, with three 3-point baskets. Forward Dimon Carrigan, 15 points, 11 rebounds, 6 blocks. Like the Roadrunners, the Panthers shot the ball well early, hitting 59.3 percent from the field in the first half. In the second half, UTSA did a better job of limiting FIU’s good looks. The Panthers made only 43.8 percent after intermission. The loss dropped FIU to 1-8 in its last 9 games. The Panthers have lost eight straight in conference, including four of those at home.